For the bajillionth — and I hope, last — time, Matthew 18 does not apply to this situation. Pastor Driscoll did not privately sin against me personally; he sinned against ALL of us, publicly. The Apostle Paul had no problem opposing Peter’s public sin publicly, and I have no problem opposing Pastor Driscoll’s public sin publicly. “But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned.” (Gal. 2:11) Instead of repenting for his plagiarism, Pastor Driscoll has spent the last few days tweeting about abandoned babies and Afghan Shiite Muslims and how thankful he is that people let him “yell Bible” at them. And Tyndale responds by indicating that Driscoll’s plagiarism meets “market standards.” If Christian publishing now says plagiarism meets market standards, then this scandal has risen to a new level.
I agree that the response of Tyndale Publishing House and Mark himself have been disappointing to say the least. But the issue I’m concerned with is how this situation got started.
Janet says Mark didn’t privately sin against her personally. That’s true—he sinned personally against the person he plagiarized, Dr Peter Jones. But she also says he sinned against all of us, and likens herself to Paul rebuking Peter at Antioch. Frankly, it’s hard to see why she would say this. Observe what happened between Peter and Paul:
11But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was condemned. 12For before certain people came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles, but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, because he was afraid of those who were of the circumcision, 13and the rest of the Jews also joined in this hypocrisy with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with them in their hypocrisy. 14But when I saw that they were not being straightforward with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in the presence of them all, “If you, although you are a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you try to compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?”
So Janet thinks these two situations are basically the same:
- Paul confronting Peter in front of a congregation he personally ministered to prior to Peter’s arrival, and which was now imitating Peter’s hypocrisy
- Janet confronting Mark in front of millions of anonymous Christians, and the rest of the world, most of whom have no particular relationship to Mark, and none of whom even knew about his hypocrisy, let alone have imitated it (that we know of)
Do you see any significant analogy there? I don’t.
Now, I have already agreed that the situation is not exactly analagous to Matthew 18 either. Mark should publicly repent if he intentionally deceived people into believing the ideas he copied were his own (and I think he did do this). But nonetheless, the analogy is far closer. Mark is accountable to the board of directors at Mars Hill—so the appropriate avenue for ensuring public repentance would have been through his church. Not on air. Mars Hill could then have ensured a proper reconciliation process with Peter Jones first and foremost, then with Mark’s congregation secondly, and finally with those other Christians in the public whom Mark deceived.
Of course, if Janet tried to do go through this process, and Mars Hill simply shut her down or refused to take action, then she would be justified in speaking to Peter Jones directly, and to Tyndale Publishing House, to try to put some pressure on Mark. And if that in turn didn’t work, then she would have been justified in acting as a whistleblower, going to the church at large in the hopes that public recognition of his sin could bring him to repentance.
But that isn’t what she did. And now, unfortunately, she is showing her colors to be the same as Mark’s by aggressively defending her mistake rather than turning from it. All while millions of people watch from the sidelines and scrap about it like soccer hooligans. Which of these two scenarios seems better:
- Mark Driscoll unexpectedly repenting in public for plagiarizing other people’s work (as a result of Janet’s private efforts behind the scenes), or…
- The repentance-less, internet-wide conflict we have now?
Satan will be having a right laugh.