Is Noble gone? Is he just a rotten drunk with a bad marriage as news reports suggest? Is this just a publicity stunt? Will he enter the stage like a rock star, making the ‘sign of the horns,’ head-banging to Highway to Hell? Or will the Leadership Team for Futuristic Vision Transition come out and tell us Noble is on an extended sabbatical until forever because he couldn’t get his life together? Or have we been punk’d?
One thing is for sure. We’ll know Sunday.
Might I make a suggestion? Could I possibly suggest that we polemicists and discerning Christians not spike the football if it turns out that Noble makes an ignoble departure?
Sure, if the pastor who called “the guy who wants to go deeper [in the Bible] ” a “jackass” is fired for effectively being an equus africanus asinus, those saying “I told you so” will naturally want to do the Ickey Shuffle. You might want to refrain. Here are the following reasons you want to demonstrate self-restraint if Noble’s church tells us that God has moved his vision-dispensing conduit to a different meat puppet.
1. Noble is a person. You know, with a soul and everything. Imago Dei. He has a family. He has feelings. The Bible exhorts us to have compassion for all people. In the Mosaic civil code, even if you executed a criminal and hung him up as a warning, you had to take his body down before sunset. If Noble is proverbially strung up, might we cut the corpse down before the day is over?
2. Noble isn’t beyond saving. Sure, the chance of him being a Christian is questionable. For a megachurch pastor to have that little understanding of the Scripture, his sanctification seems so slow it might just be nonexistent, and that’s scary. Furthermore, his deception in covering up things and his attacks on those desiring discipleship reek of being closer to demonic than sanctified. But Jesus died for worse offenses. I’d hate for this to be used to lead him to repentance and the first thing he faces on the way into orthodox christianity is a gauntlet of scary-eyed discernment folks swinging their sock n’locks.
3. It’s not like we didn’t know this – or something similar – would happen. We (polemicists) called it with Driscoll and sooooo many others. I get it; it’s annoying when you’re told to refrain from I told you so. But let’s be honest. Was it hard to call it? Megachurch pastor regularly beats his sheep. Megachurch fires pastor. That does not seem like a suspense-filled storyline. Furthermore, the proclivity for dishonesty and deflection alone meant that Noble would sooner or later go the way of Driscoll, who by the way, recently spoke at Noble’s leadership conference (is it too late for attendees to get their money back?).
4. There are Covenant people at NewSpring who will be hurting. Frankly, that’s sufficient commentary in itself. Do you want them to hate you discerning souls or in the dark and quiet think to themselves, “Wow. They were right all along. I should listen to them in the future.” Wherever the redeemed fellowship (even in a very troubled church with a very troubled impastor), there the Bride of Christ is. If she stumbles, pick her up. Don’t kick her.
5. The reason for Noble’s ignoble departure probably won’t be what it should be. Whatever the Committee for Mantle Passing and Vision Casting at NewSpring tells the world on Sunday, I highly doubt they’ll tell us that Noble’s been given the left-boot of fellowship for turning the Ten Commandments into the Ten Promises. I doubt they’ll say it’s his scripture-twisting. I doubt they’ll say it’s the eisegesis. If they did, even I might be tempted to spike that football. But, it will probably not be.
I exhort the discernment community to act according to the calling given us. We do desire repentance from some. We are aware of God’s imprecatory judgments. We do plead with those to flee from the wrath to come. But sufficient is the day in its own trouble. We don’t have to add to it.
Pray that Noble is not led to excessive sorrow (2 Corinthians 2:7). If he repents, treat him gently – and watch out for yourself, that you are not likewise tempted (Galatians 6:1).
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