The “Unleashed Conference” is a Phoenix-area conference organized by Ryan Rice of North Valley Community Church. According to its website, the point of the conference is to help the city of Phoenix, which they call “one of the most post-Christian and Biblically illiterate cities in America,” and so bring together “local and national leaders about how preaching God’s Word has expanded the Kingdom of God from generation to generation and how churches that commit to communicating the timeless truths of Scripture are thriving in the midst of troubled times.”
The conference will also include the following three pastors. You might know one of them.
According to the conference website, the term “unleashed” comes from Charles Spurgeon’s famous quotation as follows:
“The Word of God is like a lion. You don’t have to defend a lion. All you have to do is let it loose; it will defend itself.”
While the citation of the Prince of Preachers is admirable, one would be hard-pressed to believe that Spurgeon would approve of sharing a stage with a man who has been defrocked (as much as a megachurch pastor can be) and cast from the pulpit for a series of scandals that range from spiritual abuse to financial mismanagement (and lots in between).
Perhaps this quotation from Spurgeon might also be considered:
The highest moral character must be sedulously maintained. Many are disqualified for office in the church who are well enough as simple members. I hold very stern opinions with regard to Christian men who have fallen into gross sin; I rejoice that may be truly converted, and may be with mingled hope and caution received into the church; but I question, gravely question whether a man who has grossly sinned should be very readily restored to the pulpit. As John Angell James remarks, “When a preacher of righteousness has stood in the way of sinners, he should never again open his lips in the great congregation until his repentance is as notorious as his sin.” Let those who have been shorn by the sons of Ammon tarry at Jericho till their beards be grown; this has often been used as a taunt to beardless boys to whom it is evidently inapplicable, it is an accurate enough metaphor for dishonored and characterless men, let their age be what it may. Alas! the beard of reputation once shorn is hard to grow again. Open immorality, in most cases, however deep the repentance, is a fatal sign that ministerial graces were never in the man’s character (Lectures to My Students).
One wonders exactly what kind of seminary students these men are helping to turn out on the world.