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by Anthony Bradley

One sign of the declining state of Christianity in America is the way in which believers publicly slander one another, which can do violence to love and undermine the witness of the Church to nonbelievers. A recent example occurred when a Christian blogger took offensive to a comment made by a prominent pastor, and then, sadly, the blogger’s rant went viral on the internet.

Granted, the pastor, Seattle’s Mark Driscoll, seems to draw controversy like a magnet, mainly because of his willingness to speak out boldly against feminism in our society and paganism in the media, his unvarnished challenges to men to “be men” instead of soft and “effeminate,” his staunch defense of the inerrancy of Scripture, and his belief that the pastorate is reserved for men and that women should stay home to nurture their children.

But what stirred up the blogger was a recent Facebook post by Driscoll, who caustically asked, “So what story do you have about the most effeminate anatomically male worship leader you’ve ever personally witnessed?” After receiving more than 600 comments, Driscoll deleted the post, but the cat was already out of the bag. I am not here to defend Driscoll’s post and would personally challenge him over what he wrote. My concern is how Christians handle conflict with other Christians in public.

That’s where Rachel Held Evans and her blog post, “Mark Driscoll is a bully. Stand up to him,” come in. There is nothing loving about calling a pastor a “bully“—that is, “a blustering, quarrelsome, overbearing person who habitually badgers and intimidates smaller or weaker people.” That is a serious charge. In her post, Evans describes why she believes Driscoll to be a bully, implying that he, his teachings, and the elders at his church are not functioning in ways consistent with Scripture. While it is more than reasonable to understand why someone would take issue with Driscoll’s post, Evans’ way of responding cannot and should not be encouraged. What was even more disturbing was the way in which many other believers jumped on the slander bandwagon to feed on the carnage once it went viral.

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