1. We commented about the total lack of doctrinal standards applied to the question of what books are sold at LifeWay Christian Resources stores.
2. We remarked about the danger of false conversion brought on by a climate of “easy believism” and belief in “decisional regeneration.”
3. We discussed inflated membership numbers driven by pride and ego in leadership.
4. We talked about how national entities and state conventions ignore the wishes of local churches, and how political expediency instead of Biblical conviction so often drove the decisions made at all levels.
I was one of four Southern Baptists who spoke from the platform at the 2014 Reformation Montana conference, and, despite the fact that slamming the SBC was not the focus of the conference by a long shot, each of us had critical things to say regarding the current state of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Several times during the conference, I had people come up to me and ask variations on the same question. They would say something like, “You’ve got a lot of harsh things to say about the Southern Baptist.” Then they would ask, “Why are you still a Southern Baptist?”
Here is my answer (the long, full version) to that question:
On October 31 1517, when Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door the Castle Church at Wittenberg, Germany, he had no intention of starting the Protestant Reformation. No, what he was doing was calling for reform. He had identified some… Issues… Inside the Catholic Church that he felt needed to be addressed. And, so, Martin Luther was calling for debate on these issues. You know, stuff like the selling of indulgences and the use of Church funds to build ever more elaborate palaces for the popes and the bishops to live in. He wasn’t trying to split the church, he was trying to fix the church.
That, as history shows, didn’t work very well. And 3 years later, the Roman Catholic Church threw Martin Luther out. Actually, the Roman Catholic Church wanted to kill Martin Luther as they had Jan Hus 100 years before (Hus had pointed out many of the same problems that Luther later saw. In fact, Luther was influenced by the writings of Hus.) But Luther was smuggled away and hidden by some of his friends. And that transpired, it was Martin Luther’s excommunication from the Roman Catholic Church that really began the Protestant Reformation. Until that happened, Martin Luther was trying to work inside the Church to correct the errors of the Church, and bring the Roman Catholic Church back into line with what is taught Holy Bible. But the pope and the bishops rejected the calls to reform, and the Protestant Reformation, with its calls to Sola Scriptura (by Scripture alone), Sola Fide (by faith alone), Solus Christus (through Christ alone), Sola Gratia (by grace alone), and Soli Deo Gloria (for the glory of God alone) began to revolutionize Christianity and restore the true Biblical faith.
The Protestant Reformation grew and spread, and Protestant theologians, examining the Scriptures, began to develop doctrines and theological understandings that were further at odds with what the Roman Catholic Church taught than even Luther’s 95 Thesis had been. And, so, almost 30 years after the Reformation began, the Roman Catholic Church called a council in the city of Trent in northern Italy to respond to this growing challenge to church authority and church teachings. The Council of Trent met several times from 1545 until 1563, and, in the end, determined that all of the Protestants were damned for rejecting the authority of the Pope and the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. If anyone believed what the Protestant Reformers taught, then, according to Rome, that person was anathema – damned. And, because Roman doctrine considers the Roman Catholic Church itself to be infallible, the pronouncements made by the Council of Trent are still the official position of the Roman Catholic Church today. Rome still says, “If anyone believes what the Reformers taught, let him be anathema.” For Rome cannot say otherwise without saying that the Council of Trent was wrong, which would destroy their insistence on the church of Rome’s infallibility.
So, why am I still a Southern Baptist? I was raised a Southern Baptist. My parents, my grandparents, all were Southern Baptists. I cannot easily turn my back on such heritage. The Southern Baptist Convention is flawed; it is ill. But I do not believe it is beyond recovery. I’m still a Southern Baptist because there are men, others like me, within the Southern Baptist Convention calling for and working towards reform. And I must stand with them, joining my voice to theirs in calling for reform. If it is possible to pull this convention back from the brink of utter ruin and rank heresy, then we must do all that we are able to see this thing done. The stakes are high, the task is difficult, and the road is long and hard, but we must try.
Why am I still a Southern Baptist? I am still a Southern Baptist because, until the SBC cast me out, and, holding its own “Council of Trent,” pronounces me anathema, then a reform-minded southern Baptist I will remain.
“Here I stand; I can do no other. God help me.”
[Contributed by Gene Clyatt]
Over the last few weeks we’ve received a lot of questions, comments and concerns about the state of and plans for the Pulpit and Pen blog. Many people have been asking how we will be proceeding into the future with JD no longer blogging and having by and large taken a step back from Social Media [His @Pulpitandpen Twitter handle, for example, is now being used by the contributors]
Quite frankly: the same way we’ve been doing it since he removed himself over a month ago as a contributor.
There’s been speculation and assertions that our blog functions as a top-down organization, with Jordan at the head calling all the shots and approving or disapproving any articles or social media interactions. This is not the case at all. As the Managing Editor, anything published up to this point has been solely at my discretion without any input or oversight from JD, other than him poking me and prodding me to ensure that we have a reasonably steady supply of content. That’s the extent of Jordan’s involvement, and that’s how it’s always been.
Going forward nothing has changed. Jordan will still be producing the program and we will be featuring it and referencing it on the blog, and likewise he will be promoting the blog and the contributors. For example, in the very near future we hope to start transcribing portions of his program and pinning them up as posts, and we in turn will provide material for him to talk about on the program in a more deliberate way.
And so with that renewed mission and zeal comes a renewed focus of the blog. We all have our different strengths as contributors, but by synthesizing our passions we’ve agreed upon a five-fold focus of Pulpit & Pen in what we write about, speak about and rattle the cages about.
1) The Peddling of Heresy to the Church for Profit
2) Creeping Ecumenism
3) False Conversion/Easy Believism/ “Sinner’s Prayer Mythodology”
4) Political Expediency in the Church
5) Degradation of pulpit / lack of Biblical preaching.
So in that respect it’s a little different, but also a lot the same. People have assumed that certain events that have transpired over the last few weeks gave left an uncertain void in the room, and that we won’t continue to shed light on corruption in the Church, in the SBC, on bad and burgeoning theology, and on the voiceless souls being marginalized by the Evangelical Corporate Machine. There has been the suggestion that we won’t hit hard when we need to, shout loudly when we need to, and raise a ruckus when the situation demands it.
Not so at all.
The fire is still burning bright and its in the daily process of being fanned into flames higher and ever higher. We will strive as always to be more gracious in what we say, more purposeful in who we engage, and more thoughtful in our responses, but we will not back down or pull our punches when needed, nor be cowed or quieted by villainous men and women who sputter and spout when their bad theology, mischievous ways, and treacherous hearts are exposed.
If you have any questions at all about this, please direct them to email@example.com .
To that end, I leave you with a statement from JD:
I’ve heard it claimed by some of the more vocal ax-grinders – particularly those capitalizing on loss and tragedy to blatantly and shamelessly shield themselves from criticism – that the Pulpit & Pen will no longer discuss certain topics or controversies. Sometimes, wishful thinking and spiteful opportunism creates just this type of unfounded rumor.
To be fair, I handed the keys of the Pulpit & Pen to its managing editor, Dustin Germain and the other contributors almost two months ago. I can’t make a definitive statement of what the website will or will not discuss. My hand is on the plow of pastoral ministry, and my regular writing for the website is just one more thing that has to be sacrificed for the sake of this sacred calling. Obviously, if there is gross theological error or another kind of reproach to Christ, I can remove my P&P logo or commandeer what used to be my own blog. A more plausible scenario, however, is that Dustin and the gang will continue to fulfill the longstanding purpose of the website and do so in a way that will glorify God and provide lots of things for me to discuss on the program.
To all the people who have called, texted, direct messaged, or emailed me to say, “I hope you don’t stop talking about [corruption in the SBC, Downgrade issues, Lifeway's peddling of heresy, imposters in the pulpit, etc...] my answer is that I put in three full years of my life in a brutal tour of duty addressing these very things. The Pulpit & Pen website, Lord willing, will always be a place these issues can be discussed.
Another question I’ve received is “What will you do with the Pulpiteers”? The way some have characterized the Pulpiteers is that they are this rabid army of JD Hall followers, sitting around just waiting to take marching orders for who to “go after” next. Therefore, this characterization begs the question, “What will you do with them now?” Here’s the truth of it – in spite of the hype, the Pulpiteers really are an army – in a sense. They are a group of people, fed up with the modern-day downgrade in the pulpits and pews (some of them are pastors, some are laypeople) who have decided to stop being silent. The Pulpiteers, as they’ve come to be called, are not under the “control” of any man, let alone me. For certain spokesmen to entertain the notion that if I stop my “ten year muckracking campaign” (which is a quotation falsely attributed to me) that legitimate criticism will go away is to reveal an astounding underestimation of the movement that Pulpit & Pen has helped to lead. You see, that’s the funny thing about the truth. You can’t stop it.
I do want to give some words of caution to the Pulpiteers…Temper your zeal with graciousness. Don’t let the Downgrade consume your life. Be Gospel-focused. Do not be like those who hate being called to repentance and despise it when they see others do it. Rejoice in both; the love it takes for someone to correct you and your love for others when they listen to correction. Make sure your belief in the sovereignty of God underpins your calls for reform – remember that God is in charge, even over the mess that currently is American evangelicalism. At the same time, don’t use the sovereignty of God as an excuse to do nothing, for such is the strategy of far lesser men that are guided by cowardice rather than conviction. Balance both edification and reproof, blessing and rebuke.
I look forward to seeing what the contributors to the website will come up with in coming days, and suspect it will play an important role in this continued struggle to free our churches and minds from the Modern Day Downgrade.
[Contributed by Dustin Germain]
I recently had the opportunity to check out a local Church bookstore. Perusing their selection got me thinking;
What is the purpose of a Church bookstore? Apart from being a small source of revenue, which undoubtedly must be the secondary or even tertiary purpose, I would have imagined that it would be a place where you honor and glorify Christ by presenting to your congregation the best books that they can read to build their faith. This should represent what the pastor, elders and church leadership recommend as being the most thoughtful, engaging, edifying, provoking, and biblically faithful resources that they can give their members in order to build their sanctification and help them understand the purposes and character of God.
As a pastors job is to shepherd the flock and feed them God’s word, a bookstore [or even a church library- they have the exact same purpose] can serve as a small part of that. During the sermon you should be teaching doctrine that will more or less agree with the theology being espoused in a bookstore, and likewise the books complement the messages being preached from the pulpit. Simply put; the very act of stocking certain books and authors is a implicit and tacit endorsement of that authors theology. The books in the bookstore function like little sermons and teaching lessons that you are unable to deliver, but would like to. When you carry certain books, you are telling your flock “we want you to read this book, and we agree with what is being taught.” Not only that, but you are saying that the book is safe, that the theology can be trusted, and that you support what is being written about.
Unlike a for-profit bookstore, the motivations are a little different. Lifeway, for example, is seemingly all about the profit. How else could you explain their propensity to sell so many books with such bad theology? But the Church bookstore? May it never be!
Given this, every book should be vetted by either the pastor, elders, or a qualified layperson who understands law and gospel, sin and grace, and knows how to properly handle the scriptures so that they can, in the words of Chris Rosebrough “Compare what people are saying in the name of God to the word of God.” You don’t have to agree with everything that the author says, in this book or in others they have, however. The purpose is not to nitpick every tiny minutia that the book relates, but rather to determine if the authors are being faithful to the scriptures in their exegesis, interpretation, extrapolation and application, so that you can feel confident that you have done your due diligence in caring for peoples souls.
So why do so many Church bookstores or lending libraries have such rotten books? And not to put too fine a point on it, but why do so many Churches sell books from authors who are either mild heretics, moderate heretics, flaming heretics, false teachers, bible twisters, narcegetes [narcissistic eisegeters] and every other variety of bizarre purveyors of theological poison? These are books where it can be demonstrably and objectively proven that the authors are misusing God’s word, and that they are teaching things that either can’t be found in scripture, or that scripture condemns.
Church Bookstores should be places where you can let your guard down, not have to raise it up. They should be places where you can learn about biblical prayer without being exposed to gnostic witchcraft involving a mythical figures named Honi and circlemaking practices. They should be places where you can learn to see Jesus in the Old Testament and not be a breeding ground for teaching you how to make the Bible about you so that you can narcisistically insert yourself into the text. They should be places where you can read about the glories and mysteries of heaven, as revealed in scriptures, and not have some five year old boy regale you with delusions and lies about how “for real” he thinks heaven is.
The bookstore is where you learn about how to manage your finances well so that you can give sacrificially to the Church and to your neighbour. It’s not a place where you should find yourself exposed to the health and wealth/prosperity gospel- the theological abortion that would feed on your greed and lust of the world as it chains you to the lie that we should strive for the “American Dream”. The bookstore should be a place where you get a clear articulation of the gospel and the forgiveness of sins that Christ has provided for you on the cross through his death and resurrection, not where you die on the altar of self-esteem. It’s not supposed to be a place that leaves you embroiled in “moralistic therapeutic deism” by enslaving you to Christless Christianity by a man with big shiny teeth who will drag you to hell as he smiles and talks about “your best life now.” The bookstore ought to build your sanctification, not your self-esteem. Promote the sure word of the faith delivered “once for all”, not mysticism and spiritual whimsicality.
From a personal standpoint, when I see that sort of thing, it demonstrates to me that the Church leadership is not acting with wisdom and discernment. It shows that they are failing to be watchmen and good shepherds over their flocks. This is because they are allowing and encouraging into their midst purveyors of scriptural strychnine . How can I submit to them and trust them to feed my soul on a Sunday morning when they’re giving the enemy the knife to slit my throat the other six days of the week? I’m not saying they don’t love the Lord or love people, but in a way they are showing hatred towards their brothers and sisters by exposing them to the worst that Christianity has to offer. I instinctively question how committed they are to be sound teachers and exegetes of the Word when they tolerate the sloppy molestation of that very same Word by other preachers and teachers in their own homes.
What say you? Do you trust your Church bookstore? Would you or have you approached your pastor about a bad book they’re selling or lending?
[Contributed by Dustin Germain]
1 Kings 19 is one of the top three most abused, molested, eisegeted, twisted, and assumed verses in the entire Bible
But let me tell you how I REALLY feel.
Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; 12 and after the earthquake a fire,but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice” 1 Kings 19: 11-12. NKJV
If you grew up in any mainline protestant evangelical Church, it’s likely that you’ve been quoted that verse your whole life when being told and taught about prayer and hearing from God. That’s THE BIG ONE that people look to and reference as they tell you that when you pray you need to wait to hear that voice. Or they’ll say that if you ever want to communicate with God in any meaningful way, that you just need to calm your heart, and quiet your soul, and enter into a time of meditation by waiting upon the Lord. And if you do that, and if you truly listen, then God will begin speak to you in a still small voice.
Here’s the thing though: no honest reading of 1 Kings 19 will ever let you reach that conclusion.
We are never told or led to believe that God speaking to Elijah in this unique way is normative for all Christian believers today. Nothing in the passage indicates that having God speak to one specific man, for a very specific reasons, at a very specific time in his life, at a very specific time in history, translates to that being how we should all expect to hear from God all the time. This is especially true considering that it seems to be the only time that it ever happened to the prophet.
We see some of the holes develop when the people who tell you that God wants to speak to you in still small voice ignore the scriptures where God doesn’t speak that way. In the context of that very verse, both before and after, how is God communicating to Elijah? First off we see
All of a sudden an angelic messenger touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” v.5
The Lord’s angelic messenger came back again, touched him, and said, “Get up and eat, for otherwise you won’t be able to make the journey.” v.7
If we were making prescriptive what God has called descriptive, we would have to argue that just as God sent down angels from heaven to speak to Elijah in an audible voice, so to does God want to send angels to us. That the way he communicates to us is by sending angelic hosts to mingle with us and nourish and minister to us and we can expect this. So why not add talking with angels and being ministered by them as a normative and daily spiritual practice along with hearing from God via the still small voice?
Or how about the entire rest of the chapter where we see God himself is DIRECTLY speaking to Elijah in a very loud, audible voice?
He went into a cave there and spent the night. All of a sudden the Lord spoke to him, “Why are you here, Elijah?”v.9
The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord. Look, the Lord is ready to pass by.” v.11
All of a sudden a voice asked him, “Why are you here, Elijah?” v.13
The Lord said to him, “Go back the way you came and then head for the Desert of Damascus. Go and anoint Hazael king over Syria. You must anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to take your place as prophet. Jehu will kill anyone who escapes Hazael’s sword, and Elisha will kill anyone who escapes Jehu’s sword. I still have left in Israel seven thousand followers who have not bowed their knees to Baal or kissed the images of him.” v.15-18
At this point in the chapter you should be asking yourself “Is this REALLY a conversation that I am part of”?
All throughout this chapter God is speaking to Elijah as a man would speak a friend- in a direct, audible way. And yet there’s no one [well, relatively few] saying that that is how God speaks to us today- that we should wait and be silent so we can hear a voice out of nowhere start talking to us. No, rather they ignore all the verses which are directly before and directly after with God speaking to the guy out loud, and focus in on the still small voice which is the most subjective, most vague, most “fleshly” and most apt to be confused and missapropriated.
The passage states that there was a wind, an earthquake and a fire, but the Lord was in neither of them. Finally there was a still small voice, and the implication is that God was “in it” because the passage didn’t say “He wasn’t” . This doesn’t follow. Furthermore, as a note, only the KJV and NKJV translate it as “still small voice” the NIV translates it as “gentle whisper” the NASB “sound of a gentle blowing”, the NSRV “the sound of sheer silence.” The NET Bible “soft whisper” and the ESV “the sound of a low whisper”.
And so it doesn’t even say that it was God talking to him in that gentle sound or in that silence. This is backed up by the fact that the VERY NEXT VERSE, the one that is always left out says
“When Elijah heard it, [the sound of silence/whisper/blowing] he covered his face with his robe and went out and stood at the entrance to the cave. All of a sudden a voice asked him, “Why are you here, Elijah?”
More audible voices. Right.
Listen- if God was already speaking to Elijah audibly and through angels, the still small voice does not then become an indication of how God speaks to us. That’s crazy. People try to make it sound that Elijah just had to be silent and still and wait upon the Lord for the opportunity to hear that whisper. I’ve been in Church meetings where the pastor spent three days teaching us how recognize the voice of God in the whisper.
But Elijah already knew the voice of God! He heard it and recognized it way before this happened. And so trying to push that usage is just bizarre. If you’re trying to peg some spiritual act as normative, why go for the obscure line in an obscure passage that was spoken to a single unique man thousands of years ago? If you want to hijack an idea or principle or whatever from this chapter, why on earth isn’t the takeaway that God speaks to us out loud? Do the math. 4 instances of God speaking out loud, 2 instances of angels speaking. 1 instance of a sound which may or may not have been God communicating in it. And why use the “still small voice” as the main way God speaks to us when throughout this chapter and the next God is speaking to the guy clearly and directly in an audible voice, which leaves no room for error or confusion?
This doesn’t make any sense in the context of the verse, and I think it would be wise to stop telling people that that’s how they can expect they’re going to hear from God, and instead point them to Scriptur. That’s where His voice is, words on paper, and not in some quiet space of silence somewhere in your head or heart.
[Contributed by Dustin Germain]
During my daily excursions through the Bible I came across Jeremiah Chapter 29 and I wanted to share some truths that I learned.
We ALL know that Jeremiah 29:11-13 was spoken directly to us, in this present day and age, and so I was thinking
“What specifically ARE the plans that God has for us? The plans to prosper us and give us a hope and a future? Everyone always pretty much inserts their own thoughts here, but surely the Bible must give us some clues as to what they could be”
Utilizing some exegesis skills I found the answer only a few verses prior. “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Jeremiah 29:6-9.
We see clearly then that God wants us to build houses and settle down. That means that we should not live in apartments or rent basement suites, as that is not what the Lord requires of us. Besides, if we lived in apartment buildings we could not fulfill the plans God has for us, which is that we should plant gardens so that we can eat of their bounty. The reality is that those who don’t have gardens are disobedient and are in sin, because we see a clear commandment from God towards us. He wants every person to have at least one garden, full of carrots, onions, beans, etc.
As well, the Church should be doing much more to actively discourage singleness. It is a blight upon us when we know that everyone should be marrying and having both sons and daughters. Furthermore, to help us in that, I think we need to issue a challenge to the men in the community who are not finding wives for theirs sons. We see that is one of the chief responsibilities that God have given the men. Left to their own devices, the sons may find wives in bars and clubs or at the supermarket of at work.
A thousand times No! The fathers need to step up and be visible and be on the hunt for suitable women for their sons. And likewise, they need to find suitable menfolk for their daughters to marry, or else how will they be able to give them away in marriage? The problem is also compounded by the widespread use of birth control. We are to actively be involved in having sons and daughters and increase in number, not minimize our offspring with chemicals and prophylactic devices.
If we don’t do this, if we don’t seek him with our whole heart and don’t embrace the plans he has for us, what will be the result? Not only will we be disobedient to a direct message from God, but we see a few verses after Jeremiah 29:11-13, that ” this is what the LORD Almighty says: “I will send the sword, famine and plague against them and I will make them like figs that are so bad they cannot be eaten. I will pursue them with the sword, famine and plague and will make them abhorrent to all the kingdoms of the earth, a curse and an object of horror, of scorn and reproach, among all the nations where I drive them. Jeremiah 29:17-18.
Listen, I don’t want plagues and famine. I don’t want the sword. And yet we see that this is who God is. God is looking down at us in our respective towns and cities and telling us that plagues, death, destruction are before us. Those verses are for us! The Lord spoke those words as a message to us! Directly! personally! We are the recipients! The great Prophet Osteen was right! So were the minor prophets Warren, Furtick, and Noble.
These words in Jeremiah 29 are not to “the surviving elders among the exiles and to the priests, the prophets and all the other people Nebuchadnezzar had carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon.”
This is not to “all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon”
This is not to be given to people “When seventy years are completed for Babylon”
This is not “what the LORD says about the king who sits on David’s throne and all the people who remain in this city”
No way! Don’t buy into that lie! Jeremiah 29 is about us for us! God knows the plans he has us, plans for good and not for evil. Plans to give us a hope and a future.Or to quote The Message Bible [Or as I like to lovingly call it, KJV 2.0] ” I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen. When you come looking for me, you’ll find me. “
In order to achieve that, we need to repent and build those houses. We need to stop being so focused on the economy and more focused on the earth in our backyards to bring forth vegetation. If your neighbour lives in an apartment, reprove him and call him to repentance. If he is not finding wives for his sons, rebuke him openly. We don’t need his sin in our Churches. We don’t need this disobedience among the flock. We don’t need this wickedness and this dismissal of God’s word.
Only the collective heeding of these words will save us from destruction. Seeing as how the Lord does not like to tarry, I give us 5 years. Tops.
Contributed by Dustin Germain]
Posted on August 11, 2014
At this time, JD Hall has chosen to release his only and final comments in regard to the tragic death of Braxton Caner.
Note: Recorded in a new studio, there are minor, but noticeable, audio problems during the first few minutes of today’s program.
A transcript of yesterday’s comments to his congregation has been sent to ABP News. Please find the article here.
[Contributed by Dustin Germain]
Editors note. The following post was written by special guest Tim Bates, who blogs at theologicaldebates.blogspot.com
I am as happy as the next guy when a false teacher, charlatan or morally disqualified pastor is exposed or forced to step down. Their reign of terror is over. Their influence over the church has been seriously reduced. They are no longer trusted or respected or considered an authority about Christ. Amen to all these things. I will always praise God that these men are removed from such a powerful position.
The good news pretty much ends there.
We are surrounded by people who have been damaged by bad leadership. If you don’t believe me, ask around. Whether they were Catholic, Charismatic or Calvinists, one of your friends has a horror story about a pastor. Of course non-Christians have horror stories about pastors. Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ wasn’t exactly popular. If Jesus can be hated without cause then certainly even the best pastor (who is not even close to being as righteous as Christ) can also be hated. Preaching Christ crucified and faithfully expositing Scripture and being obedient to it are not exactly the plot of a church horror story. We can safely dismiss those kind of stories, but we’re still left with many people who do indeed have a troubled history with church leaders.
I do not have any specific advice or insight on how to counsel such people. I just know we need to be concerned about them and pray for them. Mark Driscoll’s dwindling ministry and ensuing PR campaign to salvage what’s left isn’t necessarily a reason to rejoice. We can be glad that he’s losing influence but think about how many people he’s impacted over the years who now look back and realize their primary Bible teacher was someone they can’t trust. Doesn’t that break our hearts? How do we fix these people? How can we possibly get them to trust us?
“Hey I know Driscoll is a jerk but you can trust me. I won’t let you down.”
That’s not an easy sell. I deeply respect my home church pastors. I recognize their humanity and so my faith isn’t in them. They point me back to Christ. If one of them ever stumbles I will be heartbroken. I have to be honest though, as much as I know I should ultimately look to Jesus, I also look at Christians here on Earth. Should my faith in Christ and His accomplished work falter based on what happens around me? No, but it does.
I’m weak. I’m a mature Christian and I am weak.
It is safe to assume Driscoll had many weak Christians listening to him as their primary teacher, especially given the trajectory of his ministry in the last few years. That’s not to say that all of his listeners are weak Christians, but many of them were. These are the brethren we should be concerned about. Men and women who don’t fully realize what faith in Christ is. Men and women who will have legitimate reasons to never trust a Christian pastor again. These brothers and sisters need our prayers.
They need their faith restored. The truth is that we can’t do anything in our own power to help them trust a pastor again. We have to pray to God to bring these men and women back. We have no choice. We can’t dismiss these people and say “that’s what you get!” We can’t act like they should have known better. What immature believer would know better? We can’t act like we haven’t been fooled in the past. I think most all of us have. Some of these pastors are better at lying than any of us are at discerning the truth. All of us can be fooled. This doesn’t only apply to Mars Hill. Mark Driscoll isn’t the only pastor to stain the bride of Christ. Let’s weep for the people hurt by bad pastors.
Protecting and guarding the church is more than just defending it from wolves, it’s also bringing the sheep back inside the fence.