"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

Paul Chitwood's Idea of a Formula Change?

At this year's SBC Pastor's Conference, Paul Chitwood, Chairman of International Mission Board, will nominate Jimmy Scroggins to be the Pastor's Conference Vice-President. I do not know Jimmy Scroggins personally, but he comes highly recommended by many people as a great theologian, pastor and leader. He has only been pastor at FBC West Palm Beach for a year.

But what interests me about Scroggin's nomination is the nominator, not the nominee. Chitwood recently came out calling for a change in the Cooperative Program formula. He felt that CP giving should increase by all our churches, but that the IMB should receive a higher percentage of all CP funds and the state conventions' a lesser percentage.

Yet, the church that is pastored by the man Chitwood is nominating to be Vice-President had total undesignated receipts last year of over 4.25 million, while giving just $29,335 to the Cooperative Program. That is less than 1% of undesignated receipts - .6 of one percent to be precise.

I would suggest to Chitwood that one of the ways to increase Cooperative Program giving to the IMB is to nominate men to Convention wide offices who lead churches that have shown a commitment to CP. To me that is the better approach than changing the CP formula.

Finally, there seems to be a pattern from folks connected to our seminaries, that if you connect the dots, would lead one to believe that some are advocating bypassing state conventions in order to give to SBC causes directly (the IMB, seminaries, etc . . . ) There seems to be a growing pattern of advocating less money to states through the Cooperative Program. I know from conversations with some of my fundamentalist friends that there is a perception that state Baptist conventions are the last "remaining vestage" of "liberal" leadership and the one area "they" don't yet control.

Frankly, if I even catch a whiff that the Great Commission Resurgence is an attempt to bypass states and go directly to national causes, I will withdraw my support in a heart beat.

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson

106 comments:

Elisabeth said...

Hey! First commenter!

Yeah, I have benefited personally directly from the states. Been a part of church plants. Been to counseling a reduced rate at a Baptist counseling agency that gets part of it's funding from the state. Had an interim pastor who is our state director of evangelism.

The state programs do just as much as the national programs for baptist life.

Robert Hutchinson said...

if the florida baptist convention keeps 60% and forwards 40% to the sbc, then fbc west palm beach gave only...12,000 bucks to the sbc through the cooperative program?

Lydia said...

Another link about Flockhart:

http://www.religionnewsblog.com/15745/pastor-steven-flockharts-fall-from-grace-resignation-tied-to-resume-lies

This link says he was recommened by Hunt.

Todd Benkert said...

So Wade, are you suggesting that a church must give all it's budgeted missions giving via the cooperative program?

What about a church that gives a percentage through the CP and an additional percentage directly to SBC causes that it wants to emphasize (like, for instance, the IMB)?

Jim Paslay said...

Wade,

This is one area I will chime with you on. I have always been frustrated with the mega churches who think the amount they give to CP will suffice over their puny percentages. Leadership within the SBC must lead by example. In my opinion, anything less than 6% of undesignated funds to CP is a poor example and the pastors of those churches should be ashamed!

I challenge my people with a saying, "Not equal giving but equal sacrifice." The same should apply to churches all across our convention.

John Daly said...

I'm a fan of my local church giving DIRECTLY to another local church and/or indigenous missionary. It gives my church a blessing by partnering actively and sacrificially and hopefully it provides a blessing to the recipient.

Brent Hobbs said...

I can't speak for the GCR, but I want to see our state convention forward 50% of funds to the national level. If we aren't seeing steps in that direction, I will recommend we start bypassing our state convention with part of our giving, to work out the 50/50 distribution ourselves.

Jeff said...

Todd, I am glad bigger churches do that, but that is still not an excuse to give some a small percent. In addition if you are going to be serve the SBC as a leader then I think you ought to be more involved in the CP.

The problem with this Chitwood's nomination is that its a good ole nomination.

Dave said...

I fear the bypassing of states & associations comes form those who are not actively involved in either. The reason for not having control of the states/ association is those are the people who know you best. Expert is one from out of state or 200 miles from home. It is hard to tell stories about a person when those who know the person can discern the truth. Voting for national positions - know one really knows who they are of if they are active in their home state & association. Definite disadvantage of current practice & allows for manipulation.

peter lumpkins said...

Wade,

Your haste in naming Dr. Patterson as the one who "highly recommended" FBCWPB's "former pastor," and thus playing "a large role" in the fallen pastor's calling to the Florida church, stands indicative of either a visible fetish, a careless conclusion, or a forgetful mind.

Even so, given that you publicly but wrongly named Dr. Patterson in this liaison, none of the three is hardly a compliment.

Why not take the link down and purge Dr. Patterson's name? What's more, why not say, "Sorry, Dr. Patterson"? Nor is there any benefit to your post's point in substituting our president's name instead.

With that, I am...
Peter

Jon L. Estes said...

Peter,

Wade may be wrong but just simply stating he is wrong does not make it so. Can you provide a source that shows the the previous pastor did not come highly recommended by Dr. Patterson?

I know you want truth but to say something is wrong, please show the right so there is no confusion.

I'll check back later to see your source. If you can't provide one, is there a reason I should simply take your word for this?

Jeff said...

John, Peter is a strange bird. He will not published the full context of an email exchange we had, but make statements about me. He bans me but will not let me respond. Peter is not a credible witness. He will not state his case, because he cannot. Peter is everything that is wrong with the SBC.

Wade Burleson said...

I would be happy to remove Dr. Patterson's name if he writes me and tells me he did not recommend Flockhart. Otherwise, I will stand by the FBC committee member's statement to me.

By the way, SBC President Johnny Hunt did also recommended Flockheart. Hunt and his church also "restored" Flockheart" after his "fall," and recommended him to the church that he now pastors. As far as I know, both Flockheart and Scroggins are wonderful men.

My point is that seminary Presidents are playing key roles in getting their men to the mega-churches of the SBC.

Blessings,

Wade

John Fariss said...

And all those who are surprized, please raise your hands. Everyone? Anyone? Is anyone out there?

John

Joe Blackmon said...

First of all, I am sure having a godly man like Dr. Mohler recommend someone to you as a pastoral candidate would and should carry weight.

Second of all, I don't know too much about state associations beyond the fact that there are plenty of folks that have their cushy little desk job, feel like they've arrived, and behave like a mutual congratulatory society commending one another for having arrived. Since many of them came from local association leadership this comes as no surprise since every DOM I've ever met save one has been about as useless as JPEG's to Helen Keller.

The fact is state associations are easily one of the biggest money pits in the convention.

Lydia said...

"Nor is there any benefit to your post's point in substituting our president's name instead."

Peter, you are too funny. Why is there no benefit? I think there is to point out how things work in the SBC. I disagree with Wade on this one. According to news sources, Hunt was aware of the problems with Flockhart when he highly recommended him for that church. All we hear is how close they were.

This whole episode also brings up the dubious 'credentials' of Hunt and others from unaccredited diploma mills. It seems Flockhart did not even finish that. Add to that problems with using church credit cards for personal use, and debt he left the church in and had to pay back...how on earth did he get a glowing reference from Hunt for WPBC?

How could Hunt help restore him when he may have been part of the coverup?

Here are some links that bring up serious questions about Hunts knowledge of the matter:

http://www.stateofthechurch.com/Old%20Featured%20Items/flockhartt.htm

http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/guestvoices/2008/06/new_sbc_leaders_dubious_creden.html

http://www.thebigdaddyweave.com/2008/06/sbc-president-johnny-hunts-diploma-mill-doctorate.html

Joe Blackmon said...

This whole episode also brings up the dubious 'credentials' of Hunt and others from unaccredited diploma mills.

I can't believe I'm going to do this---I agree with Lydia. People that don't get their education from accredited seminaries have no business calling themselves "Dr".

Christiane said...

Good Morning, JOHN FARISS,

It's me, L's
I'm not sure I was surprised, but I was a little daunted by what I have been reading.

I was hopeful: Johnny Hunt supported the Great Commission Resurgence, which seemed, on a few levels, to indicate a change of heart among some in the 'leadership' of the SBC.

I have prayed for this.

Then I start reading Wade's concerns about a possible by-passing of the State Conventions' authority, involving manipulation using the GCR.

Then I start reading sources about stated 'academic credentials' and the 'lack of them' on the part of Flockhart's and Hunt's resumes: about 'diploma mills' and paid-for graduate degrees, including Hunt's
'doctorate'.

And, worse still, I come across questions about current qualifications of some of SBC's seminaries' to stand on par with the academic communities of mainline Christianity. Wow.
That IS THE WORST because it would make the SBC appear extrememly vulnerable in the eyes of the wider Christian Community.

Is it true?
Did the CR 'take-down' the standards of some of the Seminaries? Are graduates of some of these SBC Seminaries being equipped so that they are able to dialogue with the greater Christian Community in a way that commands respect for their theological learning?

Apparently it is true about Johnny Hunt's degree-mill 'doctorate'.
And yet, he calls himself 'Dr. Hunt'. This is a question of both 'integrity' and 'humility'.

I'm an observor, and what I read is only as reliable as the source.
So many red flags have gone up. One wonders now about the 'qualifications' and formal education of trustees.

Was there another time when standards, for the veracity of clerical resumes, were different?

Is there any hope for 'up-grading' standards in future, or is the 'trend', if it IS a trend, to continue unchallenged?

And the academic integrity of the SBC Seminaries: who is in charge of accreditation? Is everything 'as it should be', or is there any truth to the lowering of academic rigor in theological studies?

Just questions I have.
No one need answer. But these are the thoughts of an observor who wishes the Southern Baptist people well. Love, L's


P.S. A STORY about lack of commitment and faith:

A high-wire artist asks a crowd if they believe he can cross a chasm blind-folded. They holler 'we believe, we believe"

He makes it safely across and back.

Now he asks the crowd if they believe he can do the same thing with a person sitting on his shoulders. The crowd responds,
"We believe, we beleive".

The performer then asks for a volunteer to sit on his shoulders.
There is silence from the crowd.

Faith without commitment.
Is it real?

Does Paul Chitwood really 'believe' in a formula change? Do we see his 'commitment' by example?
Is it real?

Love, L's

Joe Blackmon said...

And, worse still, I come across questions about current qualifications of some of SBC's seminaries' to stand on par with the academic communities of mainline Christianity.

Well, L's, see here's the thing---standing on par with some (maybe not all, but some) academic communities of mainline Christianity would mean:

*denying the virgin birth of Christ
*denying that God created a literal Adam and a literal Eve who were the parent's of the entire human race and that Adam sinned and thus passed that sin nature to the whole human race
*denying the miracles of Christ
*denying the verbal, plenary inspiration of scripture
*denying the existance of hell and the fact that those who do not repent of their sins and trust Christ as their Savior will spend eternity there

I could list more. The point is if I have to hold to any of those positions to be concidered scholarly or erudite then, by all mean, call me a big ol' "ig-nurnt" redneck.

Oh, went to the retinal speicialist today and he said everything is looking good. He cleared me to be able to mow my yard (my poor wife will be happy about that).

Blessings

Doug Hibbard said...

Joe Blackmon--

If the doctor cleared you to mow the yard, I'd go get a second opinion. At least until it gets cooler!

Doug

Tim Rogers said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tom Parker said...

Tim Rogers:

Isn't it nice to be able to come over to Wade's site and post a comment.

How long did it take for brother Steve to be restored?

Let's see Johnny Hunt recommends brother Steve, Steve really messes up, and Johnny Hunt restores him.

Do you see anything wrong at all with the above sentence?

Texan said...

Boys, boys... Its hard to believe that any of this should surprise you. This is how it has been done since before I was born (and that was a while ago). I have witnessed this hand selection personally (and was the recepient of some of it) so I know how the cow ate the cabbage... You're not going to change it because they "new" ones coming into control will do the exact same thing.

Just to show you how the mega churches can further confuse the issue when they want something:

Prestonwood BC in Dallas gives their money to the SBC through the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. That makes the SBTC feel good and look even better; HOWEVER, Prestonwood designates their money to the SBTC for the SBC so none of it stays in Texas.

Interesting isn't it?????

Wade Burleson said...

UPDATE: I spoke with Jimmy Scroggins this morning by phone. He felt that due to some problems in his church before he became pastor, a couple of sentences in the first paragraph in the original post would be detrimental the current health of his church. At his request, and with an eye toward helping, not hurting, I removed those two sentences and replaced them with the italicized words in the first paragraph. I am sorry for any hurt I may have caused the members of his church.

Interestingly, Jimmy Scroggins agrees with the premise of my post. He believes his church should give more to the CP. He has only been there a year and is working to change the amount given.

In my opinion, FBC West Palm Beach has a true leader as pastor.

In His Grace,

Wade

Christiane said...

Hi JOE BLACKMON,

It's me, L's

I'm pleased to hear about your recovery. I know what it means for someone to be legally blind: my father had macular degeneration in both eyes eventually, and could not be helped surgically.
I'm glad the doctors were able to help the Lord heal you. :)

Even so, when you mow the lawn, why not wear those plastic safety goggles, just for a while?
Or at least while you are doing the edging along a sidewalk or road?

Concerning the ability of graduates of SBC Seminaries to communicate 'on par' with those of the rest of the Christian Community: I am speaking about the ability to 'dialogue'.
This includes a willingness to listen, and to share, in ways that do not 'compromise' one's own integrity, but also in ways that seek to understand the concerns of another.

I would want any professor or graduate of any SBC Seminary to be able to dialogue with any professors, or graduates of any of the major seminaries of Christianity, as 'equals' in dignity.
I'm sure you want that, too, Joe, if you think about it.
Maybe I'm wrong about that?
Love you dearly, L's

Lydia said...

"You are correct that Brother Steve was taken through a time of restoration where he submitted to the authority of his pastor. Praise God for the City of Refuge that Brother Johnny has set up at FBC Woodstock. I know Steve Flockhart personally and I would trust him with my life and my wife. Also, I would trust him with the pin # of my bank account. He is a man of God with integrity to say he has done something that was not right."

Tim, you are rewriting history here. Steve lied on his resume and had some very shady dealings financially with church money BEFORE he went to WPBC.

Now, leading up to this and even at the church with the financial problems, Hunt was his mentor. The man baptized him and worked with him.

I find it hard to believe Hunt did not know about the financial part OR the lying on the resume. After all, he recommended him HIGHLY for the WPBC job AFTER all the problems at the last church with credit cards for personal use, etc.

Obviously he did not learn much from that ordeal because his resume was full of lies. But then, Hunt's Ph.D is fake, too.

Now, how in the world can he be "restored" by Hunt to pastor again? 1 Tim says that an elder must be above reproach to the "outside".

So, the guy that mentored him through his shady dealings and resume lying is 'restoring' him?

The SBC leadership defies logic (or credibility)

Joe Blackmon said...

L's

Yeah, I've got some saftey glasses that I'll wear. We have yet to get the little plastic spool doo-hickey (that, by the way, is a TECHNICAL term) for our weed eater so I'll have to hold off on that anyway. God was good to let me get a good dr and good to heal me as well.

I would say talking and listening to people with whom you disagree is pretty important.

Jon L. Estes said...

Let's see Johnny Hunt recommends brother Steve, Steve really messes up, and Johnny Hunt restores him.

Do you see anything wrong at all with the above sentence?


No, but most conspiracy theorist will.

Do you think the church he pastors now, knows of his past? I do.

Of course, he may be one be of those guys God refuses to forgive. Oh, to make God like us...

:-(

John Fariss said...

Hi L's,

There is a problem among some Protestant demoninations concerning degrees, including Baptists of all sorts (there are more Baptist denominations than Heinz has condiments). It it a problem that has arisen among those who lack a central authority. Although as a Baptist I affirm the autonomy of the local church, there are unwelcome side effects. Many Pulpit Committees (the group elected by the congregation to seek a prospective minister and present him to the congregation), especially in smaller churches and those composed of people with less education, either are overly impressed by credentials like "a doctorate" and do not further check it out, or simply do not know how to do so. Consequently, ministers who either do not have the funds, the stamina, or the capability to get a legidimate higher education are foisted upon unsuspecting churches. Because there is no central authority among Baptist churches (and some others), there is no denomination-wide standard minimum education for our ministers. Each church is free to set its own, and nowadays, many set that at the Master's degree level, and some at the doctorate level. The bedrock theological distinctive, however is that God qualifies the minister, not education, so Baptist tradition here is unlikely to change. Some churches (I would like to think a minority) even are hostile to higher education for its ministers. Actually, Baptists split over that very issue back in the second quarter of the 1800s; many of those opposed to "the institutions of the day" as they called it--meaning higher education for ministers, pay for missionaries, and Sunday School--left to form the Primitive Baptist denomination (and there are very few of them left now, mostly in the Appalachian regions of the South). Many left, but not all, and I have encountered people (typically in small churches) who literally hate seminaries, even our own.

As far as SBC seminaries, they are fully accredited by the legidimate accrediting agencies--if I recall correctly, one is an association of theological schools and the other is the appropriate regional group for colleges and institutions of higher learning--the same ones who accredit seminaries and universities of the United Methodist churchs, Presbyterian churches, Episcopal churches, Catholic ones, and so on. I would say that the learning philosophy has changed in our seminaries: when I went, pre-CR, the point was to familiarize the student with theological method and information (data), teach him how to use it, and thus empower him (or her by the way) to arrive at an understanding which was his own. An article I read by Dr. page patterson, when he was first president at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, was to the effect that, "Yes we teach them all the different theologies, then we teach them why that dog won't hunt." I take that to mean something closer to indoctrination that the older SBC philosophy. Maybe that is overstatement, and I am sure some of the more conservative and post-CR seminary grads on this blog will disagree, but at any rate, SBC seminaries are still accreditied by proper accrediting agencies. The problem with pastors with degrees from diploma mills is that even if a Baptist church has an educational requirement, (1) they may not verify the existence of a candidate's degree (assuming a pastor would not lie), much less verify its value, and (2) there is no requirement that the degree be from a Southern Baptist institution (good for me, since both my undergrad degree and my doctorate are from Methodist schools, although my Master's is from a southern Baptist one) or other properly accreditied school.

Actually, I think our churches--for the most part--have done a pretty good job of screening people with diploma mill degrees out. But the ones that don't often get burned by it, and make the headlines.

John

Tom Parker said...

Jon:

I think you missed my point, but that is ok.

Maybe you can help me with how all this restoration of ministers works any how.

How long did it take for him to restored?

Jon L. Estes said...

Tom,

It seems neither you or I know the answer to your question so I wonder why as a Christian we would choose words that cause people to question a man's present life, integrity and ministry without the facts.

Maybe that's the baptist way!

Paul (Saul) had a shady past, I am glad God restored him and used him. Lastly, Could it be that God restored the man and not JH but that God used JH to help in the process? Much like he uses us to witness to lost people... we don't save a soul but PTL, He uses us in the process.

Tom Parker said...

Jon:

The problem is we do have some facts and they are disturbing.

There appears to be a pattern.

I am all for restoration, but can it be done to quickly?

Lydia said...

"Paul (Saul) had a shady past, I am glad God restored him and used him."

Paul had a shady past after he was saved?

See, that seems to be the part you are missing. These things happened WHILE he was a pastor and supposedly saved. I believe he can be restored but to pastor again? There was a pattern even after the money debacle. Then it was the resume lying debacle. What about 1 Timothy?

Incidently, one of the most spiritually deep people I know is a former drug addict, womanizing gambler who was saved and it shows. He does pastor a small church in the country. He is so Born Again from the pit of sin it shows all over his face every day. So that is NOT what I am talking about. That man can pastor me any day. He loves much because he was pulled out of a deep pit.

But if he willfully lied and cheated as a pastor he would no longer be qualified as per 1 Timothy and being above reproach to the outside.

Or perhaps that was just teaching for Ephesus? :o)

Jon L. Estes said...

How quick is too quick and who gets to make that determination?

I would say the local church he is speaking with, not you or I.

Burdened said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joe Blackmon said...

Tom

I would agree that there would be something of the appearance of a conflict of interest in Hunt recommending the dude and then restoring him. Well, conflict of interest may not be the exact term for it but I think you get the idea. It may be perfectly legit but it sure doesn't look good.

Tom Parker said...

Jon:

As Lydia pointed out these actions occured after being saved and as a Pastor.

Stealing money is serious and lying about his credentials is serious. These are not minor offenses.

If he messes up again as he has in the past what would you say then?

Does he go through the restoration process again?

Jim Shaver said...

The problem most of us see with the State Convention, the National Convention and the Local Association is there is too much of an overlap of work or an unacceptable redundancy.

It is my personal opinion that whoever came up with the idea of funneling CP dollars through the State Convention while bypassing the local association, either purposely or inadvertently crippled the Local Association by it's exclusion from the process.

In our church we give over 12 % to missions. The biggest percentage goes to our local association.

Paula said...

Or perhaps that was just teaching for Ephesus? :o)

Another gem, Lydia!

(but I wonder how many people got it?)

Scott said...

I was taught that to be truly held accountable for your actions then you could not have your friends being the ones to hold you accountable in the first place.

Friends will let you off the hook alot easier than a mentor or counselor.

Denn said...

Paul was "restored?" At what point in his ministry did he need to be "restored?" What did he do to require restoration? Who was the man who restored Paul like Johnny Hunt can?

I got it . It just took me a few minutes to get to writing my questions. WOW!

Christiane said...

What, please, does 'restoration' mean?

Is it a kind of public confession to Christ and to the Church? If it is, is the person's repentance then somehow 'supervised' or guided by those who care about him?

I sort of 'get it' that it is not just a surface 'clean up his image' thing, so it must mean something to do with a seeking of spiritual healing from the Lord Christ, in the community of a religious caregivers who can help to listen and counsel with this person in trouble?

Can someone explain the meaning of this term for me. Thank you,
Love, L's

John Fariss said...

Christine,

It seems to be a pretty new phenomenon in Southern Baptist and evangelical life. The first I heard of it was, I don't know, 8 or 10 years ago, when some minister got caught in some scandol, probably of a sexual nature. But I don't know the details, and suspect there is little to no uniformity in whatever process is used. I suppose the goal is to product a significant change in the life and lifestyle of the subject, so that they again become "available" for ministry; but keep in mind, this is NOT a denominational program. I only hear of it with high-profile ministers, although there may be something available for us peons at a local, associational level. I am fearful that it either does not work terribly well, or is no more than window-dressing, but the jury is still out on that one.

John

Thy Peace said...

For all readers who have read Pastor Wade's book Hardball Religion: Feeling the Fury of Fundamentalism, please head over to Amazon.com and add a customer review.

For Pastor Wade, you can add some info in their author-central, section. It may not mean much, but over time you will sell more books.

Also, for readers who are just acquiring and reading Christa Brown's book This Little Light: Beyond a Baptist Preacher Predator and His Gang, please head over to Amazon.com and add a customer review.

Thanks for all your efforts.

Christiane said...

Thanks JOHN FARISS,

That's twice today that you have helped me to understand.

So, it may not be a 'spiritual renewal' after all. But, at least, someone sees a need, and tries to do something about it.

John, do you have hope for this coming Convention? Are there any 'good signs' ? Love, L's

Thy Peace said...

Christa's book review written by Bob Allen in ABP, is now one of the most commented review. Thank you commenters. Especially Lydia, Christa, Debbie, Jeri and Arce. God bless you all.

Rodney Sprayberry said...

L's and others...

Can a minister fall (morally, sexually, etc) and then after a period of time be restored to vocational ministry?

I believe they can and so does Johnny Hunt. It is in the context of what L's said earlier....

"...it is not just a surface 'clean up his image' thing, so it must mean something to do with a seeking of spiritual healing from the Lord Christ, in the community of a religious caregivers who can help to listen and counsel with this person in trouble..."

That is exactly what happens in the "Cities of Refuge Program"

There is care, counseling, confrontation, and compassion offered to a minister and his family if he is willing to be open honest, authentic, and completely submissive to the restoration process...the program is intense. It is long (at least a year)and it is run by godly men and woman who have a heart for hurting pastors and thier families.

It is not open just to mega pastors. Hundreds and hundreds of pastors have gone through the program. FBC Woodstock picks of the cost and care by providing housing and jobs for those in the programs.
If they complete the process some end up back in ministry others do not but there is a host of accountability partners that help discern whether or not an individual shows enough fruit of repentance to ever end up in ministry again.

It is not a perfect process and some may slip through that are insincere but most make better ministers after this process than they were before.

There is a difference, obviously, between a predator and someone ensnared by addiction, immorality, or moral/marital failure....

Johnny Hunt's city of refuge is a place of grace where those who hope/seek healing and help occur in the power and presence of Christ in the context of redemptive community.

Frank Gantz said...

Wade, I appreciate and concur with your last comment after speaking with Jimmy Scroggins. Until last month, I had been a member of FBC, WPB for a little over a year. My wife was baptized in that church in 2008. Prior to Scroggins' arrival, the church had been through some very difficult things. Some of these had a direct impact financially - in amounts far beyond what most churches can relate.

Bob Barnes was serving as interim when I began attending the church. He did a wonderful job of beginning the healing process. Jimmy's arrival last year has brought godly and wise leadership to the church. He was a special pastor to myself and my wife. I am confident that his desires are to lead the church in ways that the SBC family will rejoice.

Frank Gantz
www.pulpit2pew.com

IS ORTHODOXY OF MEN INERRANT? said...

Joe wrote:

Well, L's, see here's the thing---standing on par with some (maybe not all, but some) academic communities of mainline Christianity would mean:

*denying the virgin birth of Christ
*denying that God created a literal Adam and a literal Eve who were the parent's of the entire human race and that Adam sinned and thus passed that sin nature to the whole human race
*denying the miracles of Christ
*denying the verbal, plenary inspiration of scripture
*denying the existance of hell and the fact that those who do not repent of their sins and trust Christ as their Savior will spend eternity there"

A good point and I do agree, but to take it one step further,

"DENYING THE TRUTH, THE COVERUP, AND SHADY BACKROOM DEALS" WOULD HAVE TO BE ADDED TO THE LIST."

BTW, Joe, if you lived close to me I would lead volunteers in the church to mow the lawn or get the church to pay for someone to mow it until it is really safe for you...lke next year.

take care of those eyes

grace
wtreat

Joe Blackmon said...

wtreat

That is a kind offer. Honestly though, my wife could and would do it (small yard) and the surgery has healed. The doctor said I needed to wear safety glasses but I've always needed to do that. The eye is healed, it's just red but it'll be like that pretty well forever. I have no doubt that you'd follow through if I lived over yonder and I appreciate it.

Lydia said...

Johnny Hunt's city of refuge is a place of grace where those who hope/seek healing and help occur in the power and presence of Christ in the context of redemptive community.

Tue Jun 16, 10:47:00 PM 2009

I guess I will have to be one of the few who just does not get it. This does seem to violate the spirit of 1 Tim and an elder being above reproach to the 'outside'.

Have we developed a man made list of what disqualifies someone from elder and for how long and how many 'chances' do they get? What is the criteria? Remember, I am speaking strictly of someone in leadership.

There are other passages that warn us about not giving folks things to talk about because we are pure. Why else would Paul be concerned about being above reproach to the outside for elders?

And now I am wondering how we can restore 'pastors'. Sounds mean to the felt needs crowds, I know. And I do not mean to be 'ungracious'.

But we are talking about pastors.

Does it also go against what is taught in 1 Corin 5? I know the gist of that is about sexual perversion but later it reads:

9 I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. 10 Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world.

11 But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person.
12 For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? 13 But those who are outside God judges. Therefore “put away from yourselves the evil person.”

Paul's idea of 'restoration' (not even speaking of pastors) was to turn this 'brother' over to satan. (Not my words) so he could be saved in the day of our Lord.

This also concerns me because it seems to put a human stamp of approval on whether or not the 'restoration' worked. How could personal favortism not come into play here?

I am all for grace just not cheap grace. And I am all for restoring folks but am concerned about this process for restoring someone right back to pastoring. It seems very contrived and I would love to see some scriptural back up for this concerning elders.

The more I thought about the city of refuge, the more I thought it would be so wonderful if we created a similar place (jobs while you go healing and all kinds of help) for those who have had their lives ruined by the CR. I am sure Dr. Klouda could have used a place like that to heal from her ordeal.

Jon L. Estes said...

If he messes up again as he has in the past what would you say then?

WOW, I have trouble thinking this way. What IF he messes up again?

Let me approach it this way...

What if I sin again, do I lose my salvation? Do I lose my calling? Do I lose my favor, forever, with God?

I do not condone the things Flockhart did. Yet, but for the grace of God, there I am.

SHALOM

Jon L. Estes said...

Johnny Hunt's city of refuge is a place of grace where those who hope/seek healing and help occur in the power and presence of Christ in the context of redemptive community.

AMEN!!

This showing grace stuff is missing in to many lives of to many Christians.

As He is, so are we, in this world.

Grace, Grace, God's Grace.

Will live with it... won't live without it.

Tom Parker said...

Jon:

I really do not think you understand what I am trying to say.

You said--"What if I sin again, do I lose my salvation? Do I lose my calling? Do I lose my favor, forever, with God?"

Sinning again
losing salvation
losing calling
lose favor forever with God
has nothing to do with what I am trying to say about this Pastor.

But I will graciously let you have the last word.

Paula said...

Lydia, I don't think very many here are grasping what you're saying at all. They see no difference between the occasional lapses we all experience, and open, blatant, persistent character flaws that are beneath the rankest new believer, let alone tolerable for any "pastor".

Is scripture to be ignored in this? One gets that impression from some of these comments. Either the double honor/double penalty applies (1 Tim. 5:20) or it does not. Either Paul's examples of how those indulging in sin apply or they do not.

Funny how we can ignore Paul when it comes to pervert "pastors", but not when he talks about a particular false-teaching woman who is miraculously morphed into all women for all time.

Like our federal government, there comes a point where the infestation of evil is so pervasive that one needs to start over. Just sayin'.

Thy Peace said...

"Does it also go against what is taught in 1 Corin 5? I know the gist of that is about sexual perversion but later it reads:

9 I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. 10 Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world.

11 But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person.
12 For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? 13 But those who are outside God judges. Therefore “put away from yourselves the evil person”
.

The above scripture was used in kicking out Fbc Jax Watchdog from Fbc Jax. I guess if you have friends in high places, you are shown Grace and Mercy. Restoration is for friends of the high and mighty in man-made illusions of power. But if you are not friends of the high and mighty, then you are turned over to Satan.

From my perspective all this is SPIN. Or a layering of lies to cover ones own faults and illusions. Either you follow The Word of God or you do not.

John Fariss said...

There have been several comments questioning this "restoration process" that Rev. Flockhart went through. Maybe I initiated that when I said, "I suppose the goal is to product a significant change in the life and lifestyle of the subject, so that they again become 'available' for ministry; but keep in mind, this is NOT a denominational program. I only hear of it with high-profile ministers, although there may be something available for us peons at a local, associational level. I am fearful that it either does not work terribly well, or is no more than window-dressing, but the jury is still out on that one." Let me say up front that I have no specific knowledge about this "city of refuge," and I certainly meant no disrespect towards it. In fact, I am a big proponent of things which minister to a minister who has been "wounded" so to speak. Someone, I forget who now, said that "Christians are the only army in the world that shoots their own wounded," and too many times that is true. Both those who have been hurt by people/events in the church and even those who did the wounding deserve an opportunity to heal. Whether or not a minister who has hurt others--whether financially or sexually, whatever--should then be restored to a ministry position, I will leave those those smarter and more discerning than me.

OK, that's the positive side. Here is the negative. I am cynical. Having been a police officer and having been raised by in a policeman's home (my father), having served (briefly) as an intern chaplain in a maximum security prison, and having served as a pastor for 23 years now, not to mention seeing news reports of people, ministers especially, who repeat the same errors over and over, I am cynical of the results. Some things do not change; pedophiles do not cease to be pedophiles unless external forces require it; serial killers don't quit killing unless external forces make it happen. I believe Christ can change that, but in reality, I know of no instances of it. On the other hand, a person who had a consensual affair can become faithful, and a con artist can stop plying their con games. My point is that some people have a greater chance of going straight than others. I don't know where on this continuum Rev. Flockhart fits, any more than I know his heart. But I have to be wary of claims of quick success and quick restoration. It seems to me that after he admitted the Monica Lewinski affair, President Clinton had three "spiritual advisors," Tony Compello for one. No other affaris with him have surfaced since, but whether that is because it was successful, he has feared the results too much (Hillary's wrath), or it just hasn't become known--I don't know. But I still wouldn't want my daughter to be an intern for him.

Pardon me for rambling. I just wanted to say (1) I don't know what sort of success this "city of refuge" thing has, and (2) my perceptions are colored by my background.

John

Jon L. Estes said...

Tom, the problem is, I do understand what you are saying... I simply disagree. I believe a man who sins can be forgiven and his life can be brought back into line with scripture, then he can serve again and not forfeit his calling.

My point is, we don't know if the life has been brought back, we are focusing on the sin and not the restored life and until we know we are speaking in ignorance about a man and his life presently.

Joe Blackmon said...

Funny how we can ignore Paul when it comes to pervert "pastors", but not when he talks about a particular false-teaching woman who is miraculously morphed into all women for all time.

It wasn't just one woman. It was a universal prohibition. Deal with it.

I concur that a pastor who lives a life of wilfull disobedience to God's word should be removed. I don't have it in front of me to be able to quote any scripture, but I feel pretty confident in saying that if a pastor sins sexually it's "one and done"--you are disqualified. I certainly can't understand why any church would hire this cat that lied about his credentials and misused church money.

Jon L. Estes said...

I certainly can't understand why any church would hire this cat that lied about his credentials and misused church money.

Not all things are for our understanding. Autonomy is a headache when those pesky autonomous churches don't do church our way.

Byroniac said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Byroniac said...

Paula said, Jun 17 11:26 AM

Funny how we can ignore Paul when it comes to pervert "pastors", but not when he talks about a particular false-teaching woman who is miraculously morphed into all women for all time.

I don't know, but personally I've never understood that line of reasoning I guess. Elsewhere in Scripture when I read Paul dealing with specific errors of specific people, I see him name names and generally pull no punches. Suddenly, when it comes to this particular issue, he means someone very specific but for some reason wants to avoid naming any names (which seems unlike him to me) when he writes "a woman" in 1 Timothy 2:11-12. Sorry, I just don't get that. It has always seemed to me a case of mistaken eisegesis rather than purposeful exegesis (in the "you'd have to have help misunderstanding that" vein), but then again, I don't know the Greek either.

Lydia said...

We all sin. Our very thoughts are sinful. If we say we do not sin we are a liar. But then John says this later:

18 We know that whoever is born of God does not sin; but he who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him.
19 We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one.
20 And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.

Also, if we continue in willful consistent sin then there is no sacrifice. (Hebrews 10)

We are not talking about the sins of fighting the flesh daily that we are repentent over. We are talking about blatent, willful sin on purpose KNOWING the truth. And getting caught.

There are some who seem to be negating Pauls argument in Romans that with sin there is Grace so sin some more to get more Grace.

Romans 6

1What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life."

I am having a hard time with this. I understand Grace but I am not so sure I understand restoring a persistent, willful sinner to pastoring others again. I am all for restoring someone to the Body of Christ.

I wonder how we would respond to a government program for restoring embezzeling government employees?

And we are talking about something even more serious...shepherding others in the Word.

What does one say,

Yes, I was saved as a lowlife depraved sinner out of the depths of despair by the Grace of God.

Or

I was saved as a pastor?

Byroniac said...

Lydia, I might not agree with you on everything, but I love this: "I wonder how we would respond to a government program for restoring embezzeling government employees?" I think you've asked a very pertinent question (though I don't know enough about this issue to have much of an opinion).

Lydia said...

"Suddenly, when it comes to this particular issue, he means someone very specific but for some reason wants to avoid naming any names (which seems unlike him to me) when he writes "a woman" in 1 Timothy 2:11-12. Sorry, I just don't get that."

Actually, he explains that in 1 Tim. He was ALSO deceived out of ignorance. He understands and has compassion. But there are those who deceive on purpose and he names names. Those are folks to avoid. The deceived out of ignorance folks are to learn as in 'Let her learn'.

Byroniac said...

Lydia, maybe I am just hard-headed, but will you tell me where he explains that? Is it 1 Timothy 1:3-4? If so, I can see how that might apply (in a way), but I still cannot see it, because in 1 Tim 1:20 he names names (not all inclusively though I admit, referring to 1 Tim 1:19). But then in the next chapter, I read him speak of generalities and then POW! We're back to specific individuals again with no transition in 1 Tim 1:11-12. Does that make any sense to you why I have difficulty seeing your view? Assuming for the sake of argument you are right, why does Paul not mention the name of this mysterious "a woman" and why does he not seem to transition from general to specific?

Christiane said...

Good Morning Everyone,

It's me, L's

I have something to share from my own tradition about how pastors fall, and how they can change.

In the oral tradition of my Church is a legend about St. Peter. He was running away from Rome because of Nero's persecution of the Christians there. Peter had been their shepherd.
A novelist has told this legend better than I could, so I will share what he wrote with you:



"Henryk Sienkiewicz, in his 1905 masterpiece Quo Vadis.

At the climactic moment of the novel, Peter is leaving Rome with his friend, Nazarius, during the height of Nero’s persecution of Christians. He meets the risen Jesus on the outskirts of the city. Jesus, however, is walking into, not out of, Rome:

The traveling staff fell out of Peter’s hand. His eyes were fixed immovably ahead. His lips were open, and his face reflected unbelievable surprise, immense joy, and rapturous exaltation.

Suddenly he threw himself on his knees, his arms lifted upward and stretched to the light, and his lips cried out: "Christ! O Christ!" His head beat against the dust as if he were kissing the feet of someone only he could see. Then there was silence.

"Quo vadis, Domine?" his voice asked at last, punctured by his sobbing. "Where are you going, Lord?"

Nazarius heard no answer. But a voice of ineffable sweetness and abundant sorrow rang in Peter’s ears, "When you abandon my people," he heard, "I must go to Rome to be crucified once more."

The apostle lay still and silent with his face pressed into the dust. Nazarius thought he had either died or fainted, but he rose at last, picked up his pilgrim’s staff, and turned again toward the seven hills.

"Quo vadis, domine?" the boy asked like an echo of the apostle’s cry.

"To Rome," Peter murmured. "


How does this legend reflect our shepherds as the fragile earthen vessels that carry the Faith of Christ?

How does this legend reflect poor Peter's history of denial, and hiding, and running out of fear?

And yet in the end, according to oral tradition in my Church: St Peter asks " Whither Thou goest, Lord ?" And Peter changes course, leading to his own crucifixion in Rome.

Perhaps the ONLY WAY for a pastor to heal is to renew his hundred percent commitment to Christ, no denying, no hiding, no running away, just commitment to the end. That is a journey no one can undertake for a pastor, but we can be 'with him' in spirit on that journey:
and as vessels of clay ourselves, stand not as his judges.
There is always hope. Love, L's

P.S. LYDIA

I don't think that the story of Dr. Klouda is finished yet. There MUST come a time when the SBC makes restitution to that good woman and her family, in the Way of the Lord. It is not something the SBC can deny, or hide from, or run away from.
I look forward to that time. Love, L's

Byroniac said...

I would also like to ask, if "a woman" is specific, then who is the "a man" in 1 Tim 2:12 and why does Paul not mention his name either?

Lydia said...

Paul does not name the sexual pervert in 1 Corin 5, either. Why? He believes that he can be restored if they kick him out. He was chiding the Body for allowing it. He also held them responsible.

It is most likely the person he is talking about being repentent in 2 Corin is the same person in 1 Corin 5 and he is encouraging them to show him love.

What is 1 Timothy about? The general theme? It gives us clues in how he handles different situations. He talks about how he sinned in ignorance and disbelief. But then he talks about Hy and Al.

He also believes the women who is "authenteo" a man can learn. LET HER LEARN, he says. (Gune and aner is a hint here that he is referring to a husband wife situation. Another reason he did not name names)

(Note, in 1 timothy 2, it is the grammar that lets us know it is "a woman". Otherwise the whole passage makes no sense. How could all women be saved through childbearing? Are ALL women deceived for all time? Does this mean that men are never deceived?)

But look at what Paul says about himself:

12 And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, 13 although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.

He sinned out of ignorance and unbelief.

We also know what Ephesus was like and what the pagan temple taught about Eve being created first, etc.

1 Tim 2 is a very hard passage. IF we had many more passages like it that were more clear about women, I would not question it. But we do not. We have instances of women prophesying in 1 Corin and other places. There is NO OT law against women teaching men. So how is there a new law in the NT?

(1 Corin 14, we know is from the Oral law. There were several Oral laws prohibiting women from even speaking in public or in temple)

It makes me nervous that we take a very hard passage to interpret (authenteo is only used ONCE in the NT) and use it to shut up more than half of all believers from teaching anyone, anytime, anywhere the truth of the Word.

Joe, your turn to tell us how 'plain' the passage is. :o)

Christiane said...

2 Corinthians 4:6-7

"For God who said,
"Let light shine out of darkness," has shone in our hearts to bring to light the knowledge of the glory of God on the face of (Jesus) Christ.

But we hold this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us. "

Paula said...

Good responses, Lydia. I was running errands and just got back.

Yes, the "plain reading" method is never applied consistently, but only used when it suits the interpreter. It also ignores context in many cases. And if exceptions can be made for such "plain readings" as when Jesus said to pluck out your eye if it causes you to sin (hm, He didn't blame a woman for "tempting", did He?), then it proves my point.

I've written a book (click the Nicolaitan link here) that includes a walk through Paul's letters, observing his habits and usage of vocabulary and grammar. He does, as you observed, name names when the person is a purposeful deceiver, and not name names when the person is deceived as well. I blogged more about 1 Tim. 2 Here.

But many prefer to cherry-pick a verse here and there and claim that anyone who uses context in those particular spots is "bowing to culture" or engaging in "hermeneutical gymnastics". Funny how some preachers today are said to be "culturally relevant" yet not "bowing to culture".

Paula said...

I certainly can't understand why any church would hire this cat that lied about his credentials and misused church money.

Not all things are for our understanding. Autonomy is a headache when those pesky autonomous churches don't do church our way.


Is autonomy an excuse to ignore clear and undisputed scriptures which pertain to all believers, especially leaders? When does an autonomous church cross the line?

Jon L. Estes said...

Is autonomy an excuse to ignore clear and undisputed scriptures which pertain to all believers, especially leaders? When does an autonomous church cross the line?

No excuse made.

If a man goes against scripture while he is pastoring a church, God can restore Him and as long as the restored life is in harmony with scripture who are we to say a church can not call such a man.

A thief can stop stealing and live a life no longer a thief.

A divorced man can be forgiven but his life will not be in harmony with scripture.

Can you show me where scripture supports refusing a man who has repented and been forgiven and has lined his life up with scripture can no longer pastor a church?

I'll wait but won't hold my breath.

Chris Ryan said...

Let it be known that the indefinate article "a" has no word in the Greek. If you ever see the word "a" in a translation it has been supplied by the translator. They had to choose whether to supply "a" or "the." Paul could not have written "I do not permit *a* woman to teach." Also, the words used can be both woman/man or wife/husband. In choosing to translate the passage in the more universal man/woman we make an important decision that may not be justified by the context.

Paula said...

Can you show me where scripture supports refusing a man who has repented and been forgiven and has lined his life up with scripture can no longer pastor a church?

I'll wait but won't hold my breath.


And I won't hold mine while you dig up even one instance where a leader was restored to leadership. Please also show me one individual who had the title "pastor".

Or, you can take those as rhetorical, unanswerable questions and ignore them. :-)

Paula said...

The Greek word for "woman" is singular. The only unknown is between "a" and "the", not "a" and "ALL".

Lydia said...

"Can you show me where scripture supports refusing a man who has repented and been forgiven and has lined his life up with scripture can no longer pastor a church?"

Since pastor is only mentioned once in the NT, I use the term elder.

But, Jon this is strange. Why would someone saved who wants to be an elder NOT be qualified if he is not above reproach to the 'outside'.

1 Tim 3:7
Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

Yet,you are saying than an elder who consistently and willfully sins while elder IS qualified to be restored back to elder.

It makes no sense. Help me out here.

Rodney Sprayberry said...

After reading some of the posts since last night...I am sad. So i am going to ramble...

I do not know Jimmy Scroggins and neither do most of you. The ones that have talked with him (since he went to FBCWPB) and have commented hear speak of him positively.

Secondly, most of you do not know Johnny Hunt either. He has never tried to hide the fact that his doctorates were honorary...any real examination of the facts and information out there clearly shows that.

It is awful hard to really judge a person unless you have a relationship or at least personal knowlege of that person. Until then you can never know his/her heart, integrity, and passion. Please remember that in the blog world

(just a side note...I believe Billy Graham only has an honorary doctorate...in fact he does not even have a Masters degree...not one gets upset when he is referred to as Dr. Graham)

The Cities of Refuge minister to pastors and their families. Sometimes it is because the pastor has "fallen" Sometimes it is a public failure and sometimes it is a private one. Such events are sad and they have wide-impact on the body of Christ. No restoration is ever possible without true brokeness, honesty, humility, and grief over the impact of whatever the sin is.

Once again...
There is a difference between the predator, the habitual unrepentant person and the one who has "come to his senses in the pigpen" and turns his heart and eyes toward home...

The good ole boy recommendation system has been in place since the SBC has been in existence. CoR is not a denominational program. They do not guarantee a "fallen" pastor an inevitable return to vocational ministry.

What they offer is an opportunity to experience emotional, relational, and spiritual healing through a renewed relationship with Jesus and a renewed awareness of his power to forgive, renew, and restore.

But CoR also offers ministers and their families an opportunity to heal when they have been abused and sinned against in the churches they are in.

We talk about the travesty that occurs when a pastor sins...what about when the church willfully abuses, condones, or is so spiritually impotent that they overlook the pastor is being hurt?

Some of you might say people with no power cannot abuse...in many baptist churches the people believe they have the right and responsibility to control the church and the preachers that they pay to serve them!


For every Klouda...there are hundreds of pastors every year that are just as abused in the SBC but not one cares enough to speak out for them. Why is that?

Last of all and my tirade is complete...

The qualification of being "above reproach" was never intended to mean that a pastor is to be put on pedastal. I was never intended to mean that a pastor have (or will never) mess up! It means that it is clear that the pastor walks with God...He must know grace. He must know dependance. These things are rarely learned in our success ridden culture and convention apart from the experience of spiritual restoration and renewal.

I would rather be shepherded by someone who has fallen, experienced brokeness and renewal through God's mercy than someone who may believe such a thing is possible and may even have heard about it occurring...but have never experienced the truth of such a thing happening in his/her life.

A pastor that does not understand Biblical Christ-centered grace is not above reproach in my book.

Jon L. Estes said...

Paula,

Since you avoided answering I guess you can not show me where scripture supports refusing a man who has repented and been forgiven and has lined his life up with scripture can no longer pastor a church?

That's OK, I couldn't find it either.

Jon L. Estes said...

It makes no sense. Help me out here.

I can't help you find what the scripture does not speak of... like a man sins, repents, is forgiven, lines himself up with scripture and remains ineligible to serve as a pastor.

Jon L. Estes said...

I believe Billy Graham only has an honorary doctorate...in fact he does not even have a Masters degree...not one gets upset when he is referred to as Dr. Graham

Now you've gone and stirred the pot. Bring up an issue so others can talk down and scandalous about Dr. Graham.

TIC

Lydia said...

"For every Klouda...there are hundreds of pastors every year that are just as abused in the SBC but not one cares enough to speak out for them. Why is that?"

That is not true. You just wrote that CoR is for them, too:

"But CoR also offers ministers and their families an opportunity to heal when they have been abused and sinned against in the churches they are in."

That is significant. An SBC president and pastor started a place for them to come and heal. So, they most definitely have someone speaking out for them and helping them.

It is not lost on me that this thread is full of pastors defending willful consistent sin of other pastors. I have given scriptures that have yet to be refuted except for Rodney saying of 1 Tim 3 that being above reproach to the outside:

I was never intended to mean that a pastor have (or will never) mess up!

And that is it in a nutshell. We are not talking about 'messing up'. We are not talking about losing our temper one day and saying mean things. And then having godly sorrow for it.

We are talking about misuse of church money on purpose and lying on resumes on purpose. Two separate incidents. Consistent. willful.

The point is NOT whether any pastor who does this is unrepentent or not. It is about whether, scripturally, they are qualified to go back and be overseers.

Lydia said...

can't help you find what the scripture does not speak of... like a man sins, repents, is forgiven, lines himself up with scripture and remains ineligible to serve as a pastor.

Wed Jun 17, 02:48:00 PM 2009

Specifically an elder.

1 Tim 3 says he must be above reproach to the outside.

Hebrews 10:26-31 says that if we sin consistently and wilfully KNOWING THE TRUTH then there is no sacrfice. (We aren't saved)

Paula said...

John,

Why is it that you're allowed to argue from silence but I am not? That was the point I was trying to get across. I'm not avoiding anything, but I certainly think you are.

The fact remains that no one who has a bad reputation with outsiders, or who has not DEMONSTRATED through A TIME OF TESTING AND OBSERVATION (1 Tim. 3:10) that he has truly repented of that which he admits is sin, should be in a position of leadership. And where is obedience to 1 Tim. 5:20? "Those who sin are to be rebuked PUBLICLY, so that the others may take warning." What we see instead is "problems" swept under the rug or sanitized by taking them to a "rehab" run by someone whose qualification to do so is in question. Where is any NT precedent for such a thing? If someone is to be restored, is it not the entire congregation who is charged with this? How did the worldly, bickering Corinthians handle the man sinning with his stepmother? Did the "elders" quietly send him off to Egypt or something?

The point many here are missing is that the VICTIMS, if they are not entitled, are further abused by accusations of evil intent, while the perps are given "grace". This "grace" is not being applied evenly.

Texan said...

I'm glad most of you aren't members of my church. I have never people so adept at arguing about everything imagineable. Sometimes this blog is a sad commentary to us believers.

Paula said...

I'd be the first to agree that there's way too much bickering going on, in Christianity in general.

But when predators get "grace" and victims get "shame", when we're more concerned with numbers and buildings and meetings and all the other props and trappings of religion than we are with justice, purity, dying to sin, and treating everyone as better than ourselves, there had better be some serious arguing going on.

So the question is not whether there should be disputes, but what about. I've seen too many times where band-aids were applied to severed arms and victims were told to just suck it up and get over it, while their attackers got sympathy and rehab. What is wrong with this picture, when we argue more about drinking or dancing or being off-topic than about "the least of these"?

Rodney Sprayberry said...

Dear Lydia,

Two thoughts...

Johnny Hunt has quietly had the CoR program long before he was a bigwig in the SBC. That ministry/mission comes from the heart of a man for hurting people.

But he is not alone there are others counselors and ministries that are doing the same thing.

Most also operate out of the limelight on a local/relational level and they are conduits of grace available to hurting Christians whether they are pew sitters, pastors (or professors)

If change ever comes to the SBC it would not occur from the top down. it will occur it will begin with individuals and local churches and filter into the SBC organization. I do not know if that will ever happen but if it does that is how it will happen

A second thing...

Up until about 100-150 after the death of Christ there was no church organizational structure like we have now. Church leadership did not look like it does now.

There was no clergy/laity separation...no paid staff...no theological education...no oridnation. The gifts were grown and exercised organically (See Pagan Christianity and the work of Frank Viola).


A church leader was cultivated through a process of relational maturation not education and ordination.

There was no such thing as "vocational ministry" as we know it. Whatever Paul was talking about in the qualifications of an elder is a far cry from what we have turned it into.

All believers were expected to live in such a way as to not bring reproach on the body...the leadership would have naturally been "on that road" longer. That process of spiritual formation for individuals in the body would have naturally incorporated the issues related sin (even the big sins like sexual misconduct, lying, stealing, cheating etc)

Even Paul's advice in 1Corinthian 5
is designed to bring repentance and restoration of the individual back into the body of believers in full function according to spirtual gifts


It is sin (maybe even idolatry) to hold a pastor (as a child of God) to a higher standard than any other believer. (should leaders have qualities that reflect healthy spiritual maturity of course...but there is a difference between spiritual qualities and spiritual qualifications of a pastor verses a non-pastor)

After all we do believe in the priesthood of all believers right?

The pastor as as a professional may indeed be required to fulfill certain expecations/qualifications that are necessary to do the "job" but the clergy/laity idea is a pagan concept that foreign to the NT picture of Body Life (words like office and overseer, are bad KJV translations of really good new testament words that do not have the authoritative ring to them in the original context and lanquage see They Smell Like Sheep by Dr, Lynn Anderson)

Personally I believe the professionalization of the ministry has done more to minimize the shepherding aspect of church leadership...it has done more to create a spectator/self-centered church mentality...it has done more to create an unhealthy environment where those who feel called to serve can easily be set-up to fail. Factor in all of our inclination toward self-importance, self-centerness, and self-sufficiency...heaven help us all

Paula said...

It is sin (maybe even idolatry) to hold a pastor (as a child of God) to a higher standard than any other believer.

"Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly." (James 3:1)

"Now the overseer must be above reproach" (1 Tim. 3:2)

More to say, but things to do. Back later.

Rodney Sprayberry said...

Typo correction/Clarification

Should leaders have qualities that reflect healthy spiritual maturity? Of course! But there is a big difference between spiritual "qualities" and spiritual "qualifications" of a pastor. All believers should be growing in spiritual qualities..whether they are pastors or non-pastors.

"Qualifications" usually morph into checklists which create an us/them dichotomy.

Paula said...

Rodney,

I've read several of Viola's books and completely agree. The book I wrote and linked to earlier also focuses on how "churchianity" has not born much, if any, resemblance to the teachings and examples of the NT.

However, we cannot throw out scriptures such as the ones I mentioned previously. Leaders, by any name, are indeed held to a higher standard. What did Paul mean by "double honor" and "rebuked before all", as I have mentioned several times in this thread? The totality of teachings for the church say clearly that those who lead must have reached a higher level of behavioral consistency than others. That's scripture, not my opinion.

While I have strongly criticized the club or business model of the churches, the inherent hierarchy and its weakness for abuse, we still need the mature leading the immature, the "rightly dividing" teaching those who are not as well trained in the scriptures. And such are to be chosen not on the basis of credentials from colleges or good ole boy references, but from long observation by the people they would serve.

We all are parts of one body, and no part can say to another "I have no need of you". But when we consider the scriptures I've mentioned, along with those I haven't, we see that there is a higher standard demanded of those who lead. "Pastor" is not a job or career but a gift like any other. Yet it is a gift that affects others and has the potential to lead astray, and this is why scripture strongly and clearly demands that such be chosen carefully.

Rodney Sprayberry said...

James 3:1 is a warning to those who believe they are called to teach that God expects them to take that responsibility seriously, I concur.

"An elder must be of the Word. A man who knows it, lives it, and can share it...Good shepherds bless the flock with insights into God's heart and practical skills for living Christ honoring lives."

"They Smell Like Sheep"


"Above Reproach" means that They are the real deal and it shows up in all areas of life. It does not mean perfection. Unless this quality is taken in context with all the others it will be misunderstood.

You can only know if if someone has the qualitity of being "above reproach" through the lens of time and relationship. That is something we have lost in modern church life. We depend up references, background checks, ministry succeess, etc

In the early church you had this opportunity because leaders were home grown! There were no search committees or recomendations or personnell committees...you knew a person's story because you knew the person, you watched them mature and progress!

Christiane said...

I think I know what it is that troubles me in this discussion, although I am 'unsure' of how to explain it in terms that will be understood.

It's about COMMUNITY.

Strangely, many pastors fail 'in community', and their sheep may be injured in some way.

But then, I read that these pastors are taken away into a 'refuge' program for healing.

But there is NO MENTION of a redemptive process involving, not only the repentance of the pastor, but his willingness to seek the forgiveness of his victim(s) and MAKE RESTITUTION and reconcile, before coming before the Lord.
No mention is made.

In the Scriptures, we are told to go out and seek those we have offended and make peace with them, before coming to the Lord's Supper.

Instead, I read that 'victims' are persecuted further for trying to report the abuse. They are victimized twice over: first by the perpetraitor (sp?) and then by their Community. And the perpetrator is sent off 'elsewhere' to 'be restored'.

Seems wrong. The 'victim' needs to be a necessary part of this 'restoration process'. The 'victim' needs to be sought out and asked for forgiveness, and restitution needs to be made to the victim, in good faith, and then, reconciliation might occur.

This 'restoration' should follow the Scriptural advice to ANY Christian person.

One cannot seek the Peace of Christ without first seeking the same for his victim.
The two are inter-twined and inseparable.
Love, L's

Rodney Sprayberry said...

L's

This might have to do with the fact that modern evangelical life just rediscovering the power of redemptive community. Or maybe we are just finding the words to explain a reality that we cannot always name!

Maybe this is because Baptist churches have historically valued autonomy and Baptist believers have historically emphasized the indivividual faith of the believer
rather than the reality of redemptive relationships/community

This has had, IMHO, a tragic effect on the spiritual health many churches, pastors, and believers...but there is a shift that is occuring and I believe it is a work of God.


I can assure you that CoR and others like it are doing precisely what you are talking about.

I know other ministries, churches, and counselors who recognize the importance of community in repentence, restoration, and renewal!

We just do not talk about it as much! But that too is changing!

Lydia said...

"Up until about 100-150 after the death of Christ there was no church organizational structure like we have now. Church leadership did not look like it does now.

There was no clergy/laity separation...no paid staff...no theological education...no oridnation. The gifts were grown and exercised organically (See Pagan Christianity and the work of Frank Viola). "

I totally completely agree with your entire comment. It was a whole different ballgame when 40 people who have taken the time to know one another are sitting in Lydia's living room looking at one another, while 2 or 3 speak and the others judge. (1 Corin). Most were involved using their gifts.

We were never meant to have this model of one guy on stage becoming a celebrity of sorts. Or the final word on something. It is a trap and a snare for anyone.

We are where we are because sinful man institutionalized what was to be a living organism. And sinful man did it to elevate himself. So why do we persist with this model? I ask myself this a lot.

But our 'institutions' bring another deceptively dangerous point about the qualifications of those who 'oversee': The teaching on authority. Which is becoming more and more pervasive and vitriolic.

So we add another layer to the problem. We have folks running around teaching 'touch not thine anointed' as if there is some sort of professional class of Christian and we must all submit to the pastor/elder/bishop no matter what because that is the way 'God set it up'.

Questioning or disagreement is sin or rebellion. Pointing out sin or rotten fruit will get you kicked out real quick or targeted. And who are you to question? You did not go to seminary.

So, pretty much the leader becomes somewhat idolized because of position, title or credentials
and then who disciplines him? And I am not talking about complainers here. I am talking about real accountability. And not just some group of like minded guys who operate like a board of directors. All this authority business brings about problems that can range from petty church squabbles over the music to moving to Guyana with plenty of kool aid.

The system is a sin trap for those with power and position.

That is where the qualifications in 1 Tim come in. They are there for a reason if someone desires to 'oversee'. It is for the protection of the purity of the Bride. But even those qualifications can be easily kept by an fake Christian if you think about it. That is why we cannot ignore Hebrews 10 or 1 John 5 or all the other passages about how we know if we are truly saved. A good tree does not produce rotten fruit.

And, we know because our relationship with sin changes. We hate our sin. We cannot stay in it. We no longer wilfully, consistently and premeditatedly sin. And if we do, we would remove ourselves from any leadership because of our godly sorrow. We disqualify ourselves by the prompting of the Holy Spirit convicting us. And we come clean. We do not persist over and over.

It does not help when we dumb down sin and cheapen the precious Blood of our Savior with cheap grace. NO ONE is arguing for perfection. That is a red herring. We are simply talking about qualifications that are timeless and even MORE important than ever in these huge institutions we have built where few really know their leaders intimately.

I think we have beat this up so I will back off. I hope I have explained myself. My concern for me and for everyone else in Christendom is how seriously we view sin. Grace is so wonderful. He took the wrath we deserve! I pray we stop cheapening what He did for us with dumbing down the seriousness of willful, consistent sin. Can we start with our leaders who 'go before us'?

Christiane said...

Hi, RODNEY

I believe that at the heart of that Redemptive Christian Community, we find Christ, Himself.

It was said by the Dutch Reformed Christian, Corrie Ten Boom,
that if the Lord asks us to love our enemies,
then He would also provide the love.

Perhaps, it is also true, that Christ, in His Abundant Mercy, has given us the grace to reconcile not only with The Father,
but also the grace to reconcile with one another.
How else could we possibly have the courage to face those we have hurt, and to ask forgiveness from them ?

Love, L's

Byroniac said...

Lydia and Paula, thank you for your answers. I had to go to work (I work part time) so I was unable to participate in the conversation. Your answers have left me with even more questions. I still don't agree, and I'm not convinced, but rather than continuing to hijack the thread (which I shouldn't have done), I'll just agree to disagree. Blessings in Christ to you both.

Paula said...

You're quite welcome. And there's always my blog for if you ever want to pursue these things later. But I'm not as nice as Wade. ;-)

my blog

IS ORTHODOXY OF MEN INERRANT? said...

One of the big questions in all opinions of theology, condemnation and redemption is

"WHEN DO I WANT GOD TO GIVE UP ON ME?'

OR

"AT WHAT POINT OF MY SINFUL LIFE DO I WANT GOD TO GIVE UP ON ME?'

That is not to ignore the blatant lies, good ol boy stuff, cover up, sexual sin, etc, just that all of us need to remember that the same God who shed His mercy on me while I am still yet a sinner gives that same mercy to all sinners.

I STRUGGLE A LOT WITH THINGS LIKE JEFFERY DAHMAR GIVING HIS LIVE TO CHRIST, BUT MY BROTHER'S PASTOR WAS IN THE CELL PRAYING FOR JEFFERY WHEN HE BROKE DOWN.

I Struggle with molesters and can't say on this board what I think should happen to them.

HOWEVER, AT WHAT TIME DO I WANT GOD TO WITHDRAW HIS MERCY FROM ME?... HOW ABOUT YOU?

grace
wtreat

Paula said...

The key is to know when something is in our hands, and when it is in God's hands.

We have guidelines in scripture, examples to follow. All we need to do is practice what the Word preaches.

This isn't rocket science. As Christians we must discern when someone needs to be expelled from fellowship for the safety of the Body. That is our responsibility. It is God's responsibility to know when mercy is no longer available for salvation, but we cannot ignore His commands to guard the flock. What good are shepherds who can't tell sheep from wolves?

It is a false dichotomy to say either we always restore with nothing more than a pledge to do better, regardless of the victims, regardless of any clear pattern or evidence of change, or else we are playing God. No, we are only obeying God when we "hand them over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme".

Think of what a good shepherd does. They don't dialog with wolves; they don't rehabilitate them, they beat them off. It is the sheep who need protected and nurtured and soothed.

Think of the victims, people! We should be ashamed when excuses are made to protect reputations at the expense of the molested and abused. "Pastors" know better; they have no excuses to indulge in sin, to prey upon the sheep! We have the spines of jellyfish if we cannot throw such vermin out of fellowship. Do we "show them mercy" in violation of God's clear commands to "expel the evil man from among you"? Do we dare to thwart God's way of bringing such a sinner to his knees in order to save his soul? Is God only loving and not also just and holy?

"By their fruit you will know them."

Really, I can't think of anything strong enough to say that hasn't been said. This all reminds me of scriptures about justice lying dead in the streets. I've said all I can say.

Rodney Sprayberry said...

L's ,Lydia, and Paula I am in agreement with you both and Lydia you are probally correct in saying that we have beat this issue enough.

So I will offer my final comment.

IF repentance, renewal and restoration occur it is precisely because the is a recognition of the dark, deceptive, dangerous, and destructive nature of sin in that person's life and in the lives of those one loves, and and leads that brings the Godly sorrow and repentance.

IF that individual truly experiences grace and forgiveness he/she will be broken, humble, honest, willing to do whatever is necessary (and biblical) to make amends...then there is renewal and restoration as a child of God

No demands. No deals. No excuses. No expectations. Only trust in the good hand of God to do what He deems best in that person's life and circumstances

IF after a time that individual continue to grow and mature, is it not possible that such an individual may make a much more effective leader than before?

I know some do because I know a few.

That awareness fills me with wonder and hope that people and circumstances can (and sometimes do) change through the power and presence of Christ.

Change is available not just at the point of salvation but through the a life-long process of sanctification. All of which is because of mercy and grace!

IF we experience and internalize these truths we become stronger believers and with God's help maybe even passionate leaders (who are passionate about the right things!)

Tom Kelley said...

I would rather be shepherded by someone who has fallen, experienced brokeness and renewal through God's mercy than someone who may believe such a thing is possible and may even have heard about it occurring...but have never experienced the truth of such a thing happening in his/her life.

This sounds reasonable on the surface, but if it is true, then it would mean that the better shepherd is one who has experienced temptation, fallen, and been restored, than one who has experienced the same temptation and yet had the strength of character never to fall. But that would mean that Jesus would not be the best Shepherd. Or maybe it just means we would rather follow a sinful man than a sinless Savior.

Paul Burleson said...

Tom,

I'm addressing ONLY the point you referenced that was made by Rodney. You said, "Or maybe it just means we would rather follow a sinful man than a sinless Savior."

I think I know what you mean...but. I also know what Rodney means and there is some validity to it in my opinion.

Two things, one..there is no better testimony of being "above reproach" than the one who is fallen, TRUELY repentent as shown by a changed lifestyle by being open and hiding nothing and evidencing the grace of God for others fallen.

I've discovered that to love God more deeply it generally takes an experience of seeing His love unconditioned on my failure. When I REALLY see this [Because I've failed.] His love becomes a driving force in life. [The love of Christ constrains me."]

Two..there are no unfallen men/women to follow. At all. Only our Lord is sufficient because of that fact. So maybe we are to follow those who have fallen, repented, recovered, and are graciously ministering to others who have fallen.

There are many points of all this discussion... [Length of recovery, type of sin, type of victims, laws violated that bear consequences, a whole lot of things to be looked at for one to become a lead teaching elder again, if ever.] ...that are important so please remember I'm addressing ONLY this one point.

Tom Kelley said...

Paul,
I agree with you. I purposefully used "we" in my statement because I know I'm no different than anyone else. Our fallenness makes us prone to be more comfortable with the imperfect than with the perfect. Absolute holiness such as that of our Lord is something that, as His children, our spirits rejoice in and desire; but it is also something which, as sinful people, we find difficult to relate to.

My point was that, while we can readily perceive the value of being shepherded by someone who has "been there and back" with regard to some major sin (such as would necessitate the person stepping down from a position of spiritual leadership), we also ought to value the character and strength of those who have not fallen in that way, just as we value those things in Christ. I'm sure none of us would say that Jesus isn't as good of a shepherd as He would have been if He had sinned and been restored -- likewise, we ought not assume that a human who has sinned and been restored is better able to help us in our own struggle against sin than a person who has not. Perhaps that is not what Rodney intended to convey, but it somewhat sounded that way to me.
-----
Tom

Paul Burleson said...

Tom,

Well stated and I appreciate it. I think the one who IS the "Chief Shepherd" evidences that to be tested/tempted WITHOUT sin is essential for a Savior.

But for a fallen human leader other factors DO enter in. Good discussion. Thanks.

Rex Ray said...

WHAT IS PREACHING?

By Bishop Alfred Quayle, American Methodist Bishop

Preaching is the art of making a sermon and delivering it. Why no, that is not preaching.

Preaching is the art of making a preacher, and delivering that.

Preaching is the out rush of soul in speech. Therefore, the elemental business in preaching is not with the preaching but with the preacher.

It is no trouble to preach, but a vast trouble to construct a preacher.

What then, in the light of this is the task of a preacher? (Or of anyone sharing his or her faith.)

Mainly this, the amassing of a great soul so as to have something worthwhile to give. The sermon is the preacher up to date.

Lydia said...

I said I would quit but just one last point.

We have NOT been talking about someone who fell far and came to saving faith. WE are talking about folks claim to have saving faith who premeditate sin and are consistent in sin. Who are leaders. During the time they are premeditating and willfully in sin, they are not only preaching the Word but are counseling other folks.

What about all the folks who were deceived? Or given counsel?

We seem much more concerned about the fallen pastor than we do those who were following him and how this affected them.

Remember, we are not talking about a one time deal. Consistent. Willful.

Paul says above reproach so they won't fall into Satan's snare. And that is based on them being saved and BEFORE they took up the overseer mantle.

But I keep hearing on this thread that passage does not mean what it says. That it was about another time. And that if one is truly broken it is obvious. But I say that consistent sin means they were 'broken' once before so how did they get another preaching gig? It can take years and years to know if someone is truly broken and repentent over something like this.

(I am all for restoration just not as a leader. It seems prideful for someone who pulled the wool over folks more than once to WANT to be a leader. It seems pastoring is more of a career choice for these folks. Perhaps it is all they can do)

We should be just as concerned for those who were deceived. A city of refuge for them, too? This is serious business for the Body of Christ.

Blessings to all.