You probably know by now that Janet Mefferd waylaid Mark Driscoll in an interview on her show by pointing out that, in his book A Call to Resurgence, he plagiarizes the work of Dr Peter Jones. While this is plainly true, and not remotely the first time Driscoll has done something dodgy—the man is a cowboy and obviously unsuited to being an independent leader—it is actually Meffert I want to make a couple of comments on here.
Basically my question is this:
If one Christian leader commits a sin, should another Christian leader publicly ambush him to expose it?
What does Jesus say?
15Now if your brother sins against you, go correct him between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16But if he does not listen, take with you in addition one or two others, so that by the testimony of two or three witnesses every matter may be established. 17And if he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses to listen to the church also, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Matthew 18:15–17
It seems to me that Janet started squarely at the wrong end of that process. But in fact, she should not even have approached Mark at all—notice how Jesus frames the issue: “if a brother sins against you.” The person Mark has sinned against is Peter Jones, whom he plagiarized. So the appropriate response for Janet would have been to contact Peter privately and show him her evidence, and let him take the issue up with Mark in private, so they could settle it between them before Mark publicly repented (as he should, since this is a public situation).
The ESV Study Bible pithily observes,
If a matter can be settled without getting others involved, that will keep rumors and misunderstandings from multiplying and will keep the conflict from spreading (cf Prov 25:9).
I don’t want to say that Janet chose to publicly shame Mark because controversy makes great publicity. But I work in marketing, and controversy does make great publicity. Seems to me like both parties have some repenting to do.