Right to Rebuke?

iMonk and I have been sort of poking each other over the Mark Driscoll thing, and he and I have agreed to discuss a thesis regarding this hot topic. I’ll post here and link to his responses; he’ll post over there and link back to here.

Here’s the thesis:

"Because Mark Driscoll's sins are public, made as a pastor, it is right to rebuke him in public and seek his public repentance."

As you can imagine, this is my thesis which I think is wholly a legitimate concern. In fact, I have to admit something: I have no idea why anyone would disagree with this. The fact that this topic has to be dissected and defined down to the basic terms sort of leaves me wondering if we are actually reading our Bible and not just decorating our blogs with Scripture-linking java.

Here’s my basic argument:
[1] If a pastor sins, then he must repent.
[2] Mark Driscoll has sinned.
[3] Therefore he must repent.

There are two other context-enhancing issues: the first is that MD strives for a global pulpit, so he has the problem of all the other local churches he wants to influence and, in some sense, teach. That is, it’s not just his local elders who have an obligation to think about his behavior: it is any elder or pastor who knows his local church has been influenced by the Mars Hill pastor. They have a spiritual obligation to seek this repentance.

The second issue is that because Pastor Mark has made his errors in a public forum, before both believers and unbelievers, he has an obligation to demonstrate the fruits of repentance publicly.

Now, that’s all very well-said, I am sure: it just has no overt Bible attached to it, and of course we shouldn’t do anything without the Bible’s sufficient and authoritative guidance, right?

Yeah: that’s my first frustration here. If we’re going to get serious about the substance of the accusation, maybe someone has to get serious about the substance of the activity which has spawned all the madness first. You know: does the Bible really demand we make crude jokes about Ecclesiastes, or read some parts of Scripture with a lot of influence by our own personal commitments to enthusiastic marital sex? Did the Bible really teach us that in seeking out (for example) the crude Cretans, a pastor should appeal to their crude humor and their every question in public in order to teach and rebuke?

The question of sufficiency starts which the question of cultural appeals and using the more vulgar elements of any culture to reach out to those who are lost and dying.

But fair enough: what’s good for the Gander must be also applied to the Goose.

[A] There’s no question that what Mark Driscoll has done is a sin. Eph 5 says, “sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.” “Must not even be named”? That’s not a guideline: that’s a command. Is the word of God sufficient to tell us that? If not, what is a stronger way to express the idea behind “let it not be named” – the negated present passive imperative? Violating that command is not hardly Victorian as it comes from the 1st century.

[B] There’s no question that when one sins, one must repent. Even Mark Driscoll calls those who do not repent from sins “heretics”. Why would this need to have Acts 2 or Acts 17 cited to underscore the necessity of repentance?

[C] The elder must be blameless. That’s Titus 1, and when we abandon that we are frankly jumping off of Scripture when it doesn’t suit us. The letters to Timothy also tell us that the Elder must be mature, not maturing. So the question of “rookie mistakes” for a guy who’s been an elder for more than 10 years, and writes books for the church to receive, and claims to have a verbal call on his life from God is, frankly, hollow.

But here’s the thing: why should someone who teaches Sunday school, or who’s a pastor of another church, bother to bring it up to Mark Driscoll in any context – let alone blog it and expect to be taken seriously?

[D] I’m thinking of Jesus condemning the Pharisees with the 7 woes: did Jesus first take them aside privately and with some kind of knot in his tummy plead with them gently to please not be like that? I’m thinking of Peter and Paul in Galatia – was Paul’s first reaction to Peter’s hypocrisy to have a private meeting with him to see if his heart was in the right missional place to the Judaisers? I’m thinking of Stephen to the leaders of the Jews: did Stephen first apologize for the big misunderstanding? It seems to me that the guy who gave a global exhortation in a Desiring God conference about the value of prophetic hard words has the essential pastoral moxie to get it that nobody owes him a private lunch and a sorry tone of voice when he talks like a frat boy at spring break on national television. Public context makes a public response totally suitable.

[E] In that, those who have a spiritual responsibility to others have an obligation to address the spiritual influences on those in their charge. Consider the book of James, and the warning against too many becoming teachers as well as the exhortation to turn a brother away from sin. Consider again Paul confronting Peter before the Galatians. Consider Paul confronting the Super-apostles in Corinth. Consider The demand in the book of Titus that the leader must be able to teach and rebuke in order to set things right in the church at Crete.

I respect that Michael thinks this belongs inside the gates of Mars Hill Church. It belonged there until Mark Driscoll started seeking to be the global pastor for hipsters and hipster-wannabes.

I look forward to Michael’s opening statement.