05 December 2013

Of Mefferd and Driscoll and Integrity

Screenshot: YouTube
This may not be the post that many are expecting. No doubt a majority of readers clicked on this article for one primary reason: they are familiar with the recent controversy surrounding Mark Driscoll, radio host Janet Mefferd and public accusations made by Mefferd that Driscoll plagiarized in more than one of his published books. Except for the initial interview with Mefferd (which has since been removed from the internet,) the Seattle megachurch pastor has remained seemingly silent in the face of these ongoing accusations of plagiarism.

Mefferd, however, was quite vocal, presenting on her blog and radio show multiple examples of evidence that Mark Driscoll did indeed plagiarize, not just ideas, but in at least one of his books word-for-word paragraphs from other authors. As far as the evidence shows, Driscoll is guilty of the charges laid against him. Whether one agrees with her initial approach or not, it cannot be denied that Janet Mefferd did indeed present an airtight case. It seems impossible at this point that Driscoll would be able to deny that he is guilty of lifting the words and work of other men and using it in his own publications without the proper attribution or citation. This is an issue of integrity, and for this sin Driscoll needs to repent. Scripture teaches that men in the role of pastor or overseer are to be 'above reproach'. Thus, due to the combination of these latest findings and for other unsettling reasons, Mark Driscoll appears unfit for pastoral ministry as prescribed by the Word of God:
It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do. An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money. He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?), and not a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil. And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he will not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. (1 Tim 3:1–7) 
The audio and PDF evidence, however, has since been removed from Mefferd's website. Many noticed yesterday that the links were no longer accessible and that Mefferd's Twitter feed had been scrubbed of any mention of Driscoll and the plagiarism controversy. (Another site has made the PDF evidence accessible here.)

On her show yesterday, Mefferd offered an explanation and an apology. A transcript of Mefferd's apology can be found here and Warren Throckmorton reported the following:
Just a few minutes ago, in a stunning about face, Janet Mefferd disclosed that she removed the interview with Mark Driscoll that prompted charges of plagiarism. She also removed all of the visual evidence of plagiarism and apologized to her audience for her conduct during the interview. Saying she should have gone to Tyndale House first, she expressed regret that the matter had become a controversy among Christians. (Source)
Janet Mefferd has apologized so now, of course, many wonder if Driscoll will do the same and finally acknowledge his plagiarism. Ultimately, though, it does not matter. Mefferd followed her conscience and took accompanying action, and if Driscoll remains silent and unrepentant, then he only increases the reasons why he may not be qualified for pastoral ministry.

There is little doubt now that many are wondering why Mefferd issued this apology and purged her website and social media clean from all mention of Mark Driscoll. But, the purpose of this particular post is not to speculate as to why Mefferd took the action that she did. In fact, this article initially was written three days ago, before these latest updates. At that time, the purpose of the post was to cause the reader to consider the virtue of integrity in this matter, and that objective can still stand in the midst of these recent happenings.

This latest controversy in all of its twists and turns will prove to be an issue of integrity not just for Mark Driscoll or Janet Mefferd, but for you, dear reader. Driscoll is guilty, yes, but how is the Christian to respond? With ad hominem attacks and pithy potshots? Or with a firm stance on the truth while pleading with Driscoll to repent of this and other sins?

Mefferd's 'about face' on this issue certainly offers opportunity for theories as to who or what may have influenced her decision, but until the whole truth is known, the Christian best be mindful of leveling accusations no matter how convinced we may be of their possible validity.

Rest assured that I speak to myself in this as much as I speak to you. When we respond to such sins and behavior with unnecessarily biting remarks and humor that, though perhaps chuckle-evoking are nonetheless not God-honoring, we demonstrate the reality of passages like James 3:8–10 and reveal that it is indeed out of the abundance of our heart that our mouth speaks (Matt 12:34). When we offer speculations with too much certainty, we engage in gossip, among other sins, because we do not know that what we are saying is true. We can wonder, we may utter the inevitable, 'Hmm. . .' but we must watch our hearts in the process.

This is not a call to sweep sin under the proverbial rug. Far from it! This is not a call to begin tolerating sin and false teaching. This is not a call to couch rebukes of such atrocities in sugar-coated sweetness. May it never be! As we follow the example of our Lord and of the Apostle Paul, may we always be bold and unwavering when defending the Word of God and the doctrines contained therein. Does not Proverbs 26:4, 5 say:
Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will also be like him. Answer a fool as his folly deserves, that he be not wise in his own eyes.
The MacArthur Study Bible offers this commentary on these verses:
Taken together, these verses teach the appropriate way to answer a fool. . . . He should not be answered with agreement to his own ideas and presuppositions, or he will think he is right (v. 4), but rather he should be rebuked on the basis of his folly and shown the truth so he sees how foolish he is (v. 5). (The MacArthur Study Bible, [Nashville: Thomas Nelson:, 2006], 899.)
No, this is not a call to waffle and waver on such issues. Instead, this is a call to take such opportunities to examine our own selves, for how we respond to such debacles is evidence of our own spiritual maturity. Do we respond as would middle school children, or do we respond as grown men and women of Christ? To be sure, there are times when speculation is inevitable, and there are instances when a humorous approach is a most effective means by which to expose the absurd and ridiculous carnality that plagues the visible church, but we must be mindful that we do not drag ourselves into sin in the process. After all, are we sincerely surprised by these discoveries from Driscoll's books? Are we even surprised that the evidence has now disappeared? With all that afflicts the visible church today, we certainly ought not let such things throw us into incredulity.

We must call out error, but when we expose sin and false teaching we must do so in a manner consistent with the Gospel by which we have been saved. When we speak with the authority of Scripture in hand to rebuke such nonsense, we must do so in a way that does not simultaneously denigrate the grand truth contained within the Word. This is an area where this writer has failed numerous times, and undoubtedly will stumble more in the future. But that does not mean that we do not strive for the holiness to which God calls us in all things. Dear brothers and sisters, before you speak your mind, consider this: Will your words honor the God who saved you?

Further Reading
Acting Like Men? Mark Driscoll Crashes Strange Fire Conference, James MacDonald Watches
When Tolerance Is Valued over Truth
God Speaks, but How?

5 comments:

  1. The other interviews are also gone, btw.

    More evidence of the good old boys' network. Been saying that for years, and called divisive and critical. But some of us can smell sinful dysfunction miles away.

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  2. First, Erin thank you for the exhortation for all true believers to conduct themselves in a manner worthy of Christ.

    Regarding Janet Mefferd - I have nothing against her. Actually I give her a lot of credit for trying to tackle such an important issue, and for calling a spade a spade. That took courage. I sincerely hope her recent statements and decisions are from her conscience before the Lord, and not because satan burdened her with false guilt (one of his favorite tactics when sin and error are exposed) and/or Driscoll threatened/bullied her.

    Regarding Driscoll - at this point, he needs to repent for *many* sins; and he is definitely not qualified to be a pastor... and frankly he never was from the get-go. At this point, Driscoll has been privately rebuked (ie: by MacA back in the days of the Song of Solomon concern), publicly rebuked on numerous occasions (by many believers), and there has been no repentance. Scripture is clear on how the church is to handle such men.

    Additionally, there are some believers who also need to repent of promoting/supporting/defending/etc Driscoll, when the red flags about him have been waving for years.

    -Disgusted and Extremely Sad Sister in Christ

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    1. I heartily second "Disgusted and Extremely Sad Sister in Christ's" comment. Very well said, thank you for your good words, which of course is a response to comment on Erin's extremely good post.

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  3. Driscoll has never shown any evidence that he is a born again child of God. Rather, he has shown a massive and unquenchable ego, a disdain for the members of Mars Hill that call his hand on his high-handed tactics, false teaching, and unloving demeanor toward all who dare to oppose him. He has murdered-spiritually-all those that he has thrown under the bus for their sins against Mark Driscoll. He demands that people continue to follow and support his "ministry" as he holds hands with avowed heretics, slips in false teaching at every turn and claims to do all in the Name of Jesus and supposedly for His glory. He is one above fault, has no sin that requires repentance, and demands unquestioned allegiance from those that pay his way. In reality he is all too similar to the likes of Joel Osteen, making promises that he cannot keep and saying that God has made certain promises that cannot be found in the Bible. And yet for all of this his followers continue to blindly exalt, defend and support him. It is expected that the folks at Mars Hill would do this because they are still blinded and like to have MD's lies in their ears, it is their only comfort. But one should expect more from the church at large in the US and other parts of the world. But I fear that she is just as bereft of discernment as are those under MD's spell. Who would dare to call the man out? Who would hold his feet to the fire until he abandoned his own foolishness? Who would be so bold as John the Baptist and call him what he is, a snake, a viper, a false prophet, a charlatan, and one in need of repentance unto salvation. Why is MD indulged as an errant brother when there is nothing to indicate he is a brother at all and there is mounting example after example that he is nothing more than a wolf in sheep's clothing? It is the one who cries out "unloving" or "judgmental" that is most in need of repentance.

    Would I be your enemy because I tell you the truth, Mark Driscoll? It is time to end your charade of evil on the church at large and especially Mars Hill. Today is the best day to cry for mercy, repentance and belief on the Lord Jesus for salvation. Will you MD, be another one who will stand before Christ and complain of the sentence passed on you to eternal damnation trying to appeal your sealed fate because you "preached in His Name" and did many wonderful works in His Name? Yet His answer to you will be "depart from Me, I never knew you."

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  4. Thank you for a well thought out post. Many agree!

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