Mark Driscoll’s abuse of power evident in plagiarism controversy

By some accounts, Mark Driscoll was a bully to Janet Mefferd, the radio host who challenged Driscoll about plagiarism.

Collin Garbarino, in a new First Thoughts post, writes, “In the initial interview, [Driscoll] says that he’ll look into it, but he takes an aggressive tone and accuses the interviewer of having the wrong spirit.”

A journalist brings illegal activity to the attention of a minister, and the minister accuses the journalist of having the wrong spirit.

So Mark Driscoll believes legitimate questions (see InterVarsity Press’s concerns here) about illegal activity constitute a wrong spirit.

(I wonder how Driscoll preaches on Nathan’s confrontation of King David. Could it be something like this? “Watch it, there, Nathan! You have the wrong spirit! And I have more power than you! I’ll take away your voice!” Not that anyone would really stop someone from speaking out – oh wait.)

That’s a classic two-step often performed by politicians, bullies, and cult leaders: cover up a wrongdoing by attacking the accuser.

Or, to put it another way, turn a question of fact into a question of motive.

After the two-step comes the stonewall.

The following definition and illustration of stonewalling by Steve Becker, LCSW, might be used to describe the story line of this plagiarism controversy:

Stonewalling is when someone shuts you down from communicating. He just ‘bails’ on your efforts at communication, refuses to take you seriously; refuses to engage a discussion of your concerns. He may ignore or dismiss you, express fatigue with you (and your concerns); he may listen without offering a thoughtful, respectful response, and then credit himself for having listened.

“In any case, his unthoughtful, lazy, dismissive, or flat-out non-response to your feelings and concerns captures the essence of stonewalling and will reflect his pure contempt for which he’ll take no responsibility.

“Rather, he may depict you as a boring windbag who doesn’t know when to ‘stop talking,’ or who’s always making or looking for ‘trouble,’ without recognizing or owning how his insistent refusal to listen, his determination NOT to listen, actually provokes, passive-aggressively, your very instinct to ‘talk’ and ‘pursue him’ until he gives a meaningful response. If you do persist, he may complain to others that he is being ‘harassed’ for no reason, pointing out that he is doing ‘nothing’ to you.”

Now, according to Jonathan Merritt, Driscoll’s Mars Hill Church has backpedaled on a portion of yesterday’s statement that a book in question “was never sold.” Why would they take down those three words if the book wasn’t sold after all? That mistaken moment of public relations might be due to an earlier “unthoughtful, lazy, dismissive, or flat-out non-response,” per Becker’s article.

After all, the church just made a mistake describing its handling of money while trying to explain its plagiarism mistake.

This is starting to sound like a presidential administration.

So here’s Mark Driscoll:

When a man is granted so much mystical authority, he begins to believe he is always right and has the best word on everything. Confrontation is either dismissed or attacked. He turns against the Nathans who dare enter his court.

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