Let’s use hindsight to help us anticipate abuses of religious authority

Time’s the revelator

– Gillian Welch

Sometimes a simplistic, clichéd saying wallops me with its inescapable truth: Time really changes things.

Radio talk-show host Janet Mefferd’s confrontation with former Pastor Mark Driscoll back in November 2013 looks very, very different now.

Mefferd confronted Driscoll about some apparently plagiarized sections in one of his books.

Shortly after the confrontation, Driscoll wrote on a blog:

Case-builders collect information like stones to throw at somebody—just waiting for the right opportunity to impugn and attack someone’s character and integrity. If you’re a case-builder, you’ve decided that someone is your enemy and then justify sinful slander as righteous aggression.

Ruth Graham, writing for Slate, commented on that same blog post:

Though he didn’t mention Mefferd by name, it is hard not to see her in the section on ‘Slander/Libel’.

Mefferd was forced to backtrack and apologize, yet she told Graham she stuck to her original assessment of Driscoll’s plagiarism.

Yet as time passed, and as Warren Throckmorton and others reported on new developments and new evidence in the plagiarism allegations, Mefferd was vindicated.

And then a few more questions about Driscoll’s ethics and leadership popped up. It was like a slow start in a pot of oil and kernels, just a few random pops.

Then suddenly the popcorn was overflowing.

Now Driscoll has resigned, 21 former pastors have filed an official complaint, and some former elders and pastors are starting new churches.

Was Driscoll able to keep questionable ethics and bullying leadership because of his strong personality?

Was anyone with comparable influence able to see this coming?

Will anyone observe the fallout and decide to become more skeptical of ministers and ministries?

Darling, remember when you come to me
I’m the pretender and I, what I’m supposed to be
But who could know if I’m a traitor
Time’s the Revelator

– from “Revelator” by Gillian Welch

Also see:

Mars Hill Bellevue Pastor Thomas Hurst Resigns (Nov. 2) by Warren Throckmorton

Using Mark Driscoll and Robert Morris to Teach the Fallacy of False Dilemma (Oct. 23) by CFB

Updated Nov. 3 to clarify the Mefferd-Driscoll confrontation took place in November 2013.

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