Here is a link to David Robertson's blog, The Wee Flea. Not only is he a pastor in Scotland, but he debates atheists and has drawn the attention of Richard Dawkins. He has also had input into Ligonier Ministries in which he is regarded as a learned Reformed theologian.
I discuss a comment on TWW by Pastor Robertson on a post in which I criticized his remarks aimed at Janet Mefferd. Mark Driscoll: Dissing Driscoll: What the Church can learn from Pastor Mark's fall from grace. My goal in this response is to address some of his concerns since they seem to be issues that we have raised here at TWW. I make an assumption that there are differences in how things are addressed in Scottish culture as opposed to the United States.
I have responded to his entire comment. His words are in bold.
I would be grateful if you would allow some corrections to your rather inaccuarate article citing myself. I assume that given you are devoted to truth and stoping abusive and misleading behaviour you will allow this: There are several errors which you could have rectified if you had asked me first.
1) I did not call those who are concerned about the ministry of Mark Driscoll ‘smug’. I was referring to a particular interview in which a couple of people congratulated themselves about how wonderful, courageous etc they were. There was no mention of Mark Driscoll. As it happens I think that Janet Mefferd did the church a great service in exposing the plagarism, especially in her initial interview.
I do not know if you understand the tremendous pressure that was put on Janet Mefferd when she bravely confronted what now appears to be a widespread problem of plagiarism by Mark Driscoll. Here, here, here are some examples (including one that involved SGM) but I urge you to Google the situation. It is not beyond reason to think that enormous pressure was applied which may have included a threat to her job security.
In fact, did you know that Janet was called an "enemy of the church" by Lyall Mercer? Due to the generosity of a TWW reader, we took out a paid ad to counter this accusation by an Australian PR executive who appeared to be trying to get business in the United States by going after Mefferd.
Since your post was titled Dissing Driscoll it was not unreasonable to assume that Mefferd was discussing Driscoll. You are judging both her motives(self congratulatory) and tone as "smug." I think it is rather difficult to judge such things. In fact, as my pastor has said "Even on my best days, my motives are mixed." I think we do best not speculating motives or tone and instead address the words which are being said. Sometimes "smug" and "relief at being vindicated" can sound an awful lot alike.
2) My one problem was with the constant (several times a day) tweeting with what seemed glee about the fall of MD. I think I reached the end when Janet called for people to join in a demo at a service of public worship. That may be the way that things are done in the US but I don’t believe it is biblical.
Do you know that the protest was conceived, planned and executed by former members and pastors at Mars Hill? Janet had absolutely nothing to do with that. However, she, as well as I, supported those whose voices had longed been silenced by Mars Hill. Also, this protest was big news in the US. She is a talk show host and this is of interest to her listening audience.
We do not have a state church in the United States. We have many churches, like Mars Hill, which have no ecclesiastical authority except their elder board which is really a Board of Accountability. Until recently, it was stocked by outsiders and Driscoll and King Sutton Turner. (You do know that Executive Pastor Sutton Turner addresses himself as King since this is biblical, right?) The history of the change of bylaws and the subsequent fall out is both complex and disturbing.
As for calling such a protest being unbiblical, I would think that you must need to say the same thing about Martin Luther. That little stunt at Wittenberg caused quite a dustup.
3) There HAS been a level of schadenfreude about what has happened to MD.
What level and by whom? How do you judge that? Should people not be relieved when an injustice has been defined?
I assume that you have proper church procedures and that you do not indulge in trial by media? I do not know about MD and am not in a position to make pronouncements about what I do not know. But I find this constant political style campaigning in the church, distasteful and unbiblical.
What proper procedures? The ones by the Presbyterians, the Baptists (which ones?) Assembly of God, etc. We have about 20,000 denominations in the United States. There are roughly 314 million people in the United States. Around 40% attend church in a given week which means that @122 million are in church. So what procedure applies to whom?
What happens when things go terribly wrong and there is no procedure in place to appeal to anyone outside the given church? Luther faced that problem and he dealt with it. Yes, I do believe that the group of people involved in the Mars Hill protests are adhering to a long tradition of protest that gave us our name "Protestants." I know some of them and have spent time discussing the issues with them. These are not vengeful people. They actually love Mars Hill.
They find this course of action distasteful as do I. Most medical procedures are distasteful but are necessary to achieve a cure.
I do not know what you mean by "constant political campaigning."
Of course you can justify it by saying that you are only ‘caring’ for those who have been hurt by MD – but why do you then seek to use the same bullying emotive tactics that you accuse him off.
Please read our blog. We link to posts, article, etc. to document our concerns. So, unless you document to what "bullying" and "emotive" tactics you are referring, I cannot answer you. When I wrote about what you said, I linked to and addressed the specifics.
4) I happen to believe in biblical church discipline, not trail by media, or who shouts loudest wins.
I am thrilled that you brought up 'biblical church discipline." We have written extensively on the subject. I find church discipline an amorphous term, ill defined but loudly proclaimed by many. I have written many posts on the issue. Here is one and here is my personal favorite. I believe that church discipline, along with the consequences, should be defined a priori. I call it "the rules of the game."
Would you go to a country that did not define the laws and the expected possible punishment? Can you imagine the confusion? I know that Scotland is far smaller than the Unites States. But I bet you know of instances in which a church pastor and/or elder board enacted punishment on an attendee who simply asked the wrong question? In fact, here is an example of inappropriate church discipline applied to our good friend, and TWW hero, Todd Wilhelm.
Do I believe in church discipline? Of course, when it is done openly and fairly with the rules of the game defined in advance. In 1 Corinthians 5 an example of church discipline is laid out. Some guy was sleeping with his mother in law and then claiming that this was allowed due to freedom in Christ. In other words, it was a big deal. Have you read about how Mars Hill has handled church discipline? Here are a couple of stories that should give you an example of this link and link. Here is what Driscoll had to say about Meyer and Petry. Is this the type of discipline to which you are referring? If so, I would never attend such a church.
It is also important to realize that when a church and its pastor clamor for public attention, appearing on TV shows, etc. jumping up and down to be recognized, they should accept that the public will look and respond. However, the response may not be to their liking. Play in the public eye and expect to be critiqued in the public eye.
5) I also happen to believe that there are far more important things to be concerned about than one US mega church and all the almost inevitable fallout from an unbiblical ecclesiology combined with human sinfulness and a commericalist populist church culture. I just don’t get why people are so obsessed and angry with this (other than those who have been directly affectd. It has all the hallmarks of a self-righteous lynch mob.
My husband often tells me that I have a high emotional quotient. In other words, I care about others, deeply. There are night that I have trouble sleeping as I think about the dear people out there who have been treated like human detritus by the church. As for being self righteous, I allow comments on this blog that most other blogs will not allow. There is nothing like getting called a "witch' to take one's ego down a notch.
Years ago, a representative of SNAP(a group that fights child sex abuse in the church) told me to never forget why I am blogging. She said to always keep the faces of the victims in front of me. We blog because we care about those victims-the lost, the letdown and the looking. We are of the opinion that all of the public pastors who jump up and down to get attention have lots of people to defend them. There are very few who care about the little guy, the victims. It is far sexier to defend celebrity. We care first, and foremost, about the others.
We do not accept advertisement on this site because we want everyone to know that this is one place that is not about making money. Thank heavens that our families agree with us. We have turned down a number of media requests because we do not do this for self aggrandizement.
Do you know that the best time I have had recently was traveling with Deb up to DC (at our own expense) and meeting with people who have been hurt by the ministry of Sovereign Grace Ministries? They are what this blog is all about. I would rather spend a week with them as opposed to a week at a conference with the next celebrity pastor.
The level of gossip, accusation and slander allowed on this site is quite astonishing – all of course done ‘in the name of Christ’. It is very depressed to read just how Keller etc are just in it for the money.
Ah, the old "gossip" word. I highly recommend that you read "The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse. Accusations of gossip can be a clever way to shut down conversation.
I believe the word "slander" is the most misused and overused word in the church today. I do not know about Scotland but in the United States slander is a verbal statement. Libel is a written statement. In the United States, in order to prove libel, you must show that the writer knowingly spread a lie with the motive of causing damage to a person's good reputation. I wrote a post on this matter in which I explored what the Bible has to say about this. It is one of my favorite posts. Here is a link to Slander or an Inconvenient Truth.
I know you are currently in an astonished state, but I would ask that, when you calm down, you would do what I do and give me some examples of libelous writing.
Now, let me explain another thing about this blog. Many people have left the faith in the US due to disillusionment with the church. Perhaps this has not happened in Scotland. This blog is not targeted to just Christians. It is our goal to hear what those outside the cocoon of the church have to say about the church. I spent years reading at ExChristians.Net in order to understand what turns people off to the faith. I came to realize that Christian do not listen well and look for excuses not to listen. I learned that it was far more important to listen to what they say then to critique how they say it. Christians often write off those who leave as "heathens who were never really Christians." I don't believe that is always true.
Have you heard about the "nones?" There are many who frequent this site. We wrote a post on this subject. Did you know that many of the "nones" are still believers? We have lost them. That is one of the reasons that we started E Church. It is a place for those who do not, at this time, wish to attend church.
We decided we wanted to hear what people actually think about the church. So we allow strong criticism on this blog. We want to hear from those who have walked away. Many of them do not use the polite Christianese that makes us feel comfortable. But they are real. I want to hear their perspective, even if it is harsh. That is why we allow ourselves to be critiqued. Believe it or not, I think Tim Keller is a big boy and can take criticism as well. If we can't then we have no business engaging the public. It is not a Christian camp out there.
This openness allowed an angry agnostic to express himself here. Some people were annoyed with him Thankfully, the kindness of many on this blog, in response to his commentary, over a year, had a profound affect on him. Last November, some of us traveled to DC to watch his baptism. Please read his story here, here, and here. The change was so incredible that he wrote 140 letters to people all over the US, asking for forgiveness. I would love for you to meet him one day.
(Digression: So how did you feel about Driscoll's William Wallace II? I thought you might have an opinion since you live in Scotland.)
Thats why I tweeted to Janet – please move on. I should have known better. Sadly for me it has resulted in heaps of dogs abuse. I should have known. Ironically this week I also got dogs abuse from someone called Church O’Neal, who some of you may know. He preached a 90 minute sermon against him and let loose his followers on to me.
I am not sure that you should ever issue a command to "move along." It sounds a bit controlling, at least to our American ears. As for Chuck O'Neal, he sued my good friend, Julie Anne Smith. She prevailed. He has no influence in the US. He runs a tiny church and I think the only ones who have heard of him are those who follow stupid lawsuits.
You say you got dogs abuse? Why does that bother you? We are critiqued on a daily basis by quite a few folks. I like criticism. It means we are getting under the skin of people and that means there is hope for change. Let me make a suggestion. We started a list called "What the World is Saying About the About the Wartburg Watch." We have a good chuckle over these words. In other words, don't take yourself too seriously. Laugh a lot. My husband says it is good for the heart.
What is the world is saying about The Wartburg Watch?
- Wartburg witches
- O glorious wenches
- Minions of Satan
- Narcissistic zeroes
- Quite a gossip column
- How did we ever get along without you?
- Full of ****
- Bored housewives
- Yellow journalism
- Discernment Divas
- Feminist Heretic
- Discernamentalist Diva Mafia
- Poor reading comprehension
- In Need of ESL
- Anti-Christian bigot
- E Pharisee
- Discernment blogger
I feel kind of dirty. Memo to self – Keep out of American church wars…its a filthy business.
I am sorry that you feel this way. You know, Jesus left His perfect home to come and live among us. I would imagine that he found us all somewhat difficult. Yet, He loved all of us "filthy" people. It is nice to know that everything is clean and nice in Scotland's church dustups. I will need to explore your churches in the future.
May God have mercy on us all. As I sit in my study listening to 100 muslims about to have a ‘party for peace and harmony’ in our neighbours house, and heading to preach tomorrow to some broken people, the doings or not of MD and those who delight in his falling are of little interest to me. How does any of this help the kingdom? How does it do anything more than feed egos, fuel hurts and confirm prejudices? I pray the Lords blessing on you all and I pray for MD and Janet and any others of His servants, sons and daughters.
- How did it help the kingdom when Nathan confronted David?
- How did it help the kingdom when Jesus turned over the tables and called the Pharisees "dogs?"
- How did help the kingdom when Paul outlined the issue in 1 Corinthians 5?
- How did it help the kingdom when Luther revolted?
- How did it help the kingdom when Martin Luther King Jr exposed racism in the church?
- How does it help the kingdom when pedophiles in the church are exposed?
- How does it help the kingdom when pastors who make millions off their followers are called to account?
- How does it help the church when an abusive personality is brought to light?
- How does it help the kingdom when we expose a plagiarizer in the pulpit?
I'll leave those answers up to you.
May God bless you and your ministry.