Jonathan Merritt is spot on reference to how we should respond to the downfall of megachurch pastor, Mark Driscoll.
So, yes, part of me wants to pop bottles and strike up the band. I want to rejoice like one person in my twitterfeed who responded to the announcement, "Good riddance, Mark Driscoll". But as I've given it more thought, I cannot celebrate the demise of Mark Driscoll, and I don’t think Christians should either.
This may seem like a precarious opinion in light of such a long history of ministerial malfeasance. But I recall Solomon’s words in Proverbs 24:17: "Don’t rejoice when your enemies fall; don’t be happy when they stumble." As the son of a warlord-king, Solomon had witnessed more fallen foes than he could count on his fingers and toes. Each defeat meant more wealth for his country, more security for his people. Even still, Solomon says that wise people resist the urge to celebrate in such moments.
Perhaps Solomon knew that releasing the animosity we harbor towards others is the only way the offended can be truly liberated. Maybe he knew, as Henri Nouwen said, "Joy and resentment cannot coexist." Too often we forfeit all manner of joy, like the elder brother in Jesus' powerful parable of the prodigal, because we want those who've hurt us or others to pay, pay, pay. But what we often find when we thirst for retribution is that the pain of the offender never fully quenches. We pant for more payment, more pain, more shame to satisfy our anger, hurt, disappointment. As the root of bitterness grows deep, its sour fruit hangs heavy.
There is no doubt that Driscoll should have stepped down-- and for a lot longer than six measly weeks, if you ask me. I say this not because I believe in the myth of the perfect preacher who resides in an ivory tower and lives more righteously than others. But rather, because his patterns of behavior seem to illustrate instability of his emotional state and have resulted in the harm of others. I hope he receives help from a professional. (I know firsthand the difference that counseling can make.)
So in the wake of this news, I find myself relieved but not gleeful. I'm relieved the spiritual abuse is beginning to end. I'm relieved that I won't have to wake to another one of Mark’s hurtful comments trickling down my twitterfeed. I'm relieved that I won't have to tell another non-Christian friend, "He doesn't speak for most of us." I'm relieved, even as I grieve that the story did not have a happier ending.
Yes, I am relieved but I cannot rejoice. For when we celebrate the demise of another, we wake to realize we are also celebrating our own.
The entire post can be read here.
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