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

Finding a Way to Be Authentic With Ourselves and With Others

The post yesterday which linked to a FOX news special investigation on a Southern Baptist pastor, a personal friend of mine, had over 100 comments in a very short period of time. The sentiment of many was that my post should not have linked to the report and that nothing good or beneficial could come from discussing this pastor's visit to strip bars, how we could help him or his church, or the hurt and pain caused by this pastor's sin toward the people in the church he pastors, his family, and fellow Christians. Some felt I was too soft on the pastor, and others felt I was too hard on him. All I know is that I love this man, have personally offered to help him in anyway possible, and have challenged him to be forthright and open about his sin, taking complete and full ownership. I will neither dismiss this man as a Christian brother, nor will I act as if his sin did not occur. For far too long the Christian church has lacked total and complete transparency when it comes to our failures.

The Bible is inspired, God-breathed truth. God did not cover David's sin of adultery, though God did pay for David's sin of adultery through atonement. It's my opinion that the power of the gospel is only truly seen when the Holy Spirit brings people to transparency. Truth is, going to a strip club is not a sin. Police officers go there all the time to arrest people in fights. Dads may go there to rescue a daughter from stripping. A pastor may go there to bring accountabiliy to a dancer who is involved in his church's Celebrate Recovery program. All those things would not be sin.

But if a man were an officer, or a dad, or a minister entering a strip club to rescue or redeem a loved one--the man's loved ones would know in advance. He would tell them for his own protection and his need for their assistance. The man's wife would know, the man's small group would know, the man's friends would know, etc... The evidence that something is wrong in our lives is the inability to be transparent about it. That would include anything and everything in Christian ministry. If we can't be transparent about what we are being paid as pastors, something's wrong. If we can't be transparent about what we believe, something's wrong. If we can't be transparent about what we are doing, something's wrong.

Proverbs says the path of the righteous grows brighter and brighter like the rising sun (Prov. 4:18) but the wicked walk in darkness and do not even see that over which they stumble. At the heart of all stumbling for believers is our desire to hide, cover and conceal our lives--while at the same time presenting a cover mask that makes us seem different than the way we really are. The issue of my friend going to the strip club was that he lied about his purpose for being there (i.e. "I went there to help a person in our Celebrate Recovery ministry"), and tried to cover up the fact that he frequented strip clubs on a regular basis and paid his favorite strippers thousands of dollars. For too long we have enabled Christian leaders to lie by letting them off the hook when they lie.

For those who believe there is no redemptive value in "airing our dirty laundry," I offer the following letter, received yesterday and used with permission, as evidence that desiring authenticity and transparency in Christianity is something healthy.

"I've commented at least once on your blog as "Johnny D." I've been reading it for several months. I just wanted to say thank you ...

I prayed the salvation prayer in May of 1988, and I do believe that I really was saved. I spent a great deal of money & time evangelizing through the promotion and production of Christian rock concerts, and any other way I could think of to reach the crowd out on the edge. I was very serious about it all, and I even took several classes at Bible college. I prayed and witnessed regularly, belonged to a local Bible church, and considered myself called into pastoral ministry. I was wrong about that. Of course God was not.

About ten years ago I chucked Jesus and church and the whole thing. Some of that chucking was just immaturity on my part, but there were also legitimate reasons for my leaving. I will only say that a lack of authenticity by those around me really bothered me. I saw no real power of the Holy Spirit as we were promised, and that eventually led to me deciding against the Spirit's existence. Anyhow, I was just as guilty for all the things I looked down at other people for, but I was too immature to fully grasp that fact.

I know you're busy, so I'll just cut to the chase. God has called me back, and I've been listening. A part of that calling back has been your example, Tom's example (Watchdog), and the example set by others that post at the dog's blog. Many of those people at dog's blog have embraced me and have been praying for me. I'm still struggling with things such as how far do I go with my walk and talk. I'm kind of anonymous right now, but I do have some good people praying for me. I guess there is a part of me that is afraid of getting "burned" again, and I'm struggling to let that part of me go. I know that most of this falling away, if not all of it, is my fault, but I still am having a hard time with trusting God. I keep thinking things like, "If I proclaim my faith again to all my friends and family, what will I say if I find I still can't believe at some later date?" That sounds kind of silly to me now that I see it in print, but there it is. I have told my wife that I have been praying and reading Scripture again, but I think that she wants to see how serious I am before she makes any further moves or comments. She's a wonderful, beautiful woman, and we've been married 27 years. She told me that she hadn't fallen away as far as I had, but we both know that we haven't been living as Christians for a long time.

I think this note to you is part of the cleansing process for me - or I at least hope it to be. Anyhow, thanks again for your integrity and your leadership. You've made a difference in my life, and I hope that one day I can report to you that I have successfully come all the way back. That I have found a way to be authentic to myself as well as others. That I no longer worry about what others are doing. That I really have experienced the true power of God's Holy Spirit. I want that peace I used to have. My faith is a lot smaller than a mustard seed, but I do have some faith. I do want you to know that I love Jesus. That I have missed Jesus and praying, and that these past couple of months that I have been praying have been quite amazing. I have about a 30 minute ride to work, in the dark, so I get to just let it all go, out loud, and that has been very nice. Well, thanks for reading, and I'll be reading your blog.

Johnny D.

Johnny, I am praying for you. I think you are getting it. Your letter is authentic. Christianity is not composed of perfect people. It is composed of people who struggle with sin, just like those who don't know Christ. The difference is believers in Christ aren't afraid to tell people about our struggles. We acknowledge them. We don't hide them. Why? We have come to Christ, in whatever small amount of faith we possess, and we are learning to rest in His forgiveness and mercy. More importantly, we are beginning to realize that the same power that raised Christ from the grave is within us, changing us from the inside out.

Sometimes we chafe. Sometimes we rebel. Sometimes we grow cold. Sometimes we run.

But He who began a good work in us will carry it on to completion, and for that, we are eternally grateful. For His glory and our good the work God has begun and is continuing in us sometimes even involves Him using ....

Television cameras and news reporters to break us.

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson

66 comments:

Anonymous said...

Far too long churches have buried and covered up sin and failure by their leaders. While it is painful it is important that leaders who fail be held accountable for their failures rather than passed along to other churches. Churches too often allow fallen leaders to resign quietly and then provide no warning to congregations who might call them to ministry positions without doing a thorough check on their background. True repentance will open the door for restoration. It takes time and I believe requires verification through humbly submitting to the supervision and counsel of a mentor in the process.

Caleb said...

A question that continues to fall as unasked is "What about the church?" At what point does the public humiliation of the church become considered. People continually talk about the need to expose sin. Ok. But when should it be considered how the public exposing of that sin damages the church to a point of humiliation and further damage.
Personally, I believe that is what happened in that news report. A church became publicly humiliated not simply by the actions of the pastor but by the actions of news media. How is it right to go into a church and break a story that they know nothing about and humiliate them? Why not call the church and make them aware of the situation and allow them the opportunity to deal with it in a less public manner so as to spare them the humiliation of it all. Why not handle it that way?
I agree that sin must be dealt with. However, I disagree that it must always be dealt with publicly. There is no need to humiliate an entire congregation.

Wade Burleson said...

Caleb,

You may or may not have a legitimate point, but the only one who can answer your question "Why not handle it that way?" is the television news station.

I would think, in light of God's providence, that IF what was needed in this situation was a private confrontation and a private rebuke, then the pastor would have been "discovered" by someone other than a television news investigative reporter.

The television industry does not seem to be in the business of dealing with things privately.

Pete said...

"But those elders who are sinning you are to reprove before everyone, so that the others may take warning" (I Timothy 5:20)

Caleb said...

Pete,
I have doubts that the "everyone" that verse is talking about refers to the public at large. I believe it refers to the particular congregation.

Wade,
I agree with you that the news station is the only one that can answer that question. You are correct to say that the television industry doesn't seem to understand the concept of dealing with things privately, unless it is one of their own.
My frustration is that the church was never considered in that very sad circumstance. My heart breaks to see a congregation dragged through the mud like I believe this congregation was.

Wade Burleson said...

Caleb,

Good point, but without being flippant, I would think that God, who has chosen this church as His Bride, is far more concerned with the welfare of the church than you.

And, He is far more capable of orchestrating events for their ultimate good, so some of your sadness and sorrow for this church may very well be misplaced.

It seems to me that God has them right where He desires them to be, for His ultimate purpose and their preeminent good.

Joe Carr said...

"Good point, but without being flippant, I would think that God, who has chosen this church as His Bride, is far more concerned with the welfare of the church than you.

And, He is far more capable of orchestrating events for their ultimate good, so some of your sadness and sorrow for this church may very well be misplaced.

It seems to me that God has them right where He desires them to be, for His ultimate purpose and their preeminent good."

Wow Wade! So you know it was God's will to post this link and extend the church's humiliation beyond their region? I agree that God is in control of ALL events, but your response was stunning to me and has a ring of superiority to it. I do not think that was your intention, but that is how it appeared as I read it.

Caleb said...

Wade,
I think you misunderstand my point. I do not doubt God's control and orchestration of this entire event and his hand upon this church and it's path. However, that doesn't suggest that my sorrow and sadness is misplaced.
The entire story of Job is one of God being in control and working out all things within His plan. Does that mean no one should feel sorrow for Job in all that he endured? Certainly not. Sorrow for someone or something does not doubt the sovereignty or providence of God.

Johnny D. said...

Wade, thank you for the prayers. I very much appreciate them. I think you know what I'm seeking, so I won't go into too much more detail. I will only add that I really want to know God's Holy Spirit this time around. I'm not sure I can explain that without sounding like I'm seeking after a "second blessing," but I just know (or at least sense) I can't live like I did in my previous walk with Jesus.

As for the pastor going to the strip club, I think you have done the right thing all the way around.

Covering it up, ignoring it, pretending it did not happen, not discussing it, would not have given me the chance to pray for this pastor - which is what I did on the way into work this morning. Beyond that, I won't say anything else. I don't know him, and can only say that I know his struggle. I wish him the very best. If it is possible, and you think it wise, please let us know how he is doing.

Wade Burleson said...

Joe,

I, and Caleb, were both referring to the television investigative news team.

Wade Burleson said...

Caleb,

I think I understand better what you are saying.

Thanks for the dialogue.

I pray you never lose your ability to hurt for others.

Wade Burleson said...

Johnny D.

I think your desires to know the Holy Spirit are being answered right before our eyes. Thanks for your openness and vulnerability.

James Hunt said...

Very good post, Wade.

Thy Peace said...

God bless you Johnny D. Keep on trusting in Christ. This will always be the cutting edge of your faith. Johnny D also gave a testimony on Watchdog's blog here.

Joe Carr said...

Wade,

Thanks for the clarification.

Paul Burleson said...

Wade,

I'm reminded of what Orwell once said..."In times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act."

Orwell was working for the BBC at the time and had been uncovering the deceit of his own belief system [Socialism] and it's sad consequences.

I think in Kingdom people telling the truth ought to be a normal lifestyle. But I'm afraid deceit may be alive and well in Kingdom people all too often. I say let the revolution begin.

Christiane said...

"We have come to Christ, in whatever small amount of faith we possess, and we are learning to rest in His forgiveness and mercy. More importantly, we are beginning to realize that the same power that raised Christ from the grave is within us, changing us from the inside out."

I rejoice in this statement of great faith in Our Lord, Wade.
This is an 'apostolic teaching' that has been handed down from the beginning,
that is present in Holy Scriptures, and is treasured among all the 'ekklesia' who reside in the Body of Christ.

wtreat1919@yahoo.com said...

very well said, Brother Wae

Darrell said...

typo, BROTHER WADE

greg.w.h said...

Authentic is to counterfeit as truth is to lie.

Greg Harvey

Thy Peace said...

Johnny D: I would encourage you to check these two sermons of Paul Burleson at Emmanuel - Enid.

1. Reflections on the Resurrection, Sunday August 01, 2010.

2. Reflections on Our Problem with Sin, Sunday August 08, 2010.

Lydia said...

"I will only add that I really want to know God's Holy Spirit this time around. I'm not sure I can explain that without sounding like I'm seeking after a "second blessing," but I just know (or at least sense) I can't live like I did in my previous walk with Jesus. "

Amen! Thanks Johnny D!


Teaching on the Holy Spirit is awol in so many churches. I think too many are trying to be the Holy spirit for others with all our focus on who is in authority over whom, etc.

We also tend to stand in the way of the Holy spirit working in a person's life by trying to make the consequences of sin "softer". We do this in many ways. Some say they are mistakes (no, that is spilling the milk), some say sin is a bad choice (no, that is ordering the garlic shrimp instead of the steak).

It is only when we become seriously convicted of our sin with godly that we begin to understand His forgiveness! That is what the Good News is really about.

I once heard this analogy about sanctification: We start out like sheets of colored glass and the Holy Spirit has to shatter that glass in order to mold a more beautiful mosaic of stained glass.

Pege' said...

Wade, Nice post. I think the fear of transparency is because there is such a condemnation and judgment of people in the church. When I was at Emmanuel a you well know I fell into a Major Depression and was hospitalized for many, many weeks. I was joked about by some in the church. Gossiped about by others, even those in leadership. Rejected by a few. Ah but the majority of the people loved me, prayed for me, encouraged me, accepted me. There is where I found the freedom to be transparent. There is where I found healing. Humble hearts who loved me warts and all. They were transparent back. The knew they were not perfect and they too were aware of their humanity. Before Emmanuel I was at a church I could not have even mentioned the word depression with out being rejected and shunned. That is why I hid. How we all forget that we are all sinners...saved by God's grace not to perfection but to salvation. I am now trying to live my life in honesty, or transparency with my self and others. So much better. I agree with Johnny D.. I have learned much from you my friend. I am glad the man in question has you in his corner.
BLESSINGS

Christiane said...

Wade writes this:
"But He who began a good work in us will carry it on to completion, and for that, we are eternally grateful."

He is our Hope: Our Saving Lord Who has 'overcome the world'.

I am reminded of a wonderful passage in Tolkien's novel 'The Lord of the Rings', where the character Sam asks:

'"Is everything sad going to come untrue?
What’s happened to the world?”

“A great shadow has departed,”
said Gandalf.'

Anonymous said...

Caleb, I get what you are saying. I'll bet you though that when all the facts come out, it will have been a church member who blew the whistle (maybe instead of confronting it personally?). Maybe even the financial person, who had to know something was amiss if a church credit card was being used. Anyway, in my humble opinion, it probably went on too long because the church did not confront the man. Again, lack of accountability and isolation are dangerous in ministry (or anywhere else).

Tom Kelley said...

Kevin M. Crowder said...
"Above reproach" does not mean without sin. It does not mean without grave sin.


Kevin, I know you made that comment on the previous post, but I thought you'd be more likely to see my question here. I'm wondering, what does "above reproach" mean? You said what it doesn't mean, but I've been trying for some time to understand what it does mean. Not the lexical definition of the words, but in practical terms. How do we determine that someone is above reproach?

It doesn't seem realistic that it would mean "without sin", as no one is that. But it also doesn't seem as though it would mean "without some big sin" or "without a whole bunch of little sins", as the point at which to draw that line would be hard to determine, making it so subjective as to be difficult, if not impossible, to say at what specific point someone ceases to be above reproach.

So, in your opinion, what does it mean?

I'd be interested in others' interpretation of this also.

Wade, what do you think?

-----
Tom

Caleb said...

Anonymous,
I highly doubt all the facts will come out in terms of who blew the whistle. If it was a church member then I find that quite troubling that they felt the need to go all the way to the news media to bring this to light.

Wade Burleson said...

Tom,

"Above reproach" seems to me to be a phrase that is descriptive rather than proscriptive. In other words, the person's life is lived in such a way that people who know believe his character, integrity and actions to be consistent with the character of Christ.

Rex Ray said...

Caleb,
You raised the question of who blew the whistle.

When asked if his wife knew about this, his “Yes” had a tone of regret that makes me think he thought his wife called Fox for his own good.

Gene Scarborough said...

Let me take a strange track on this story---IS HE TOTALLY DEVOID OF MINISTRY????

This young minister let his desire to enjoy adult entertainment possess him.

On the other hand, how many "righteous" and "sinless" ministers are participating in murder of others who differ with them over the nature of the Bible / selecting new leaders / being a servant minister over a "king Pastor?"

What would they say about Jesus talking with the Woman at the Well of Samaria???

Do any of you have any idea why strip bars exist?

Have any of you ever talked to a woman with children who cannot support herself and them working as a sales clerk?


How many businesses will help a capable woman earn enough when a sorry man deserted his family?

How manly "righteous" churches welcome her and help without judging???

Focusing our judgmental eyes on a young minister who has failed in his own eyes could keep us from realizing he was, at least, with real sinners / with real needs / women who were doing what they had to do to supposrt their children.

Just step back a little and think of all the people involved in this--not to mention a TV station wanting ratings with dramatic news!

Craig Dunning said...

"Let me take a strange track on this story-"

Mr. Scarborough,

If you are suggesting this "young pastor" was doing real ministry because he was "at least, with real sinners / with real needs / women who were doing what they had to do to support their children," then you aren't taking a strange track, you have jumped the tracks.

Is picking which place to invest ministry helps money for the needy based on how "h*rny" one is that day?

Good grief! If you want to try to argue the various reasons why women solicit themselves like this, then do that. But please don't try to paint this pastor's actions as ministry. Even the pastor knows that's beyond the pail . . . even though he hints at such in his less than candid resignation.

If he really believed it was ministry I doubt he would have said there was no excuse for his actions or that he would have resigned or that he would have been acting in secret. Sometimes even the guilty get some clarity on a situation.

I believe the news report was actually a measure of God's grace for him. It really didn't leave much wiggle room, which is what we sometimes need to force us to be honest with ourselves and others.

Caleb said...

Rex,
I suppose anything is possible. I bet his wife didn't know anything about it and he was just saying this in an attempt to get the media off his back. Who knows. This whole situation has the feel of a soap opera and is certainly disheartening.

Gene Scarborough said...

Craig--

At the time I posted my comment, it was based on the picture of the young man sitting in the corner of the story.

Next, I went to the FOX News report and there were obvious problems with this pastor's actions. I saw nothing indicating more than "thinking with the wrong head."

What I am saying about ministry and how adult entertainers are perceived remains true.

When we have become so righteous we do nothing but use ladies with troubles--instead of offering real help---I see a problem with the ethics of ministry.

Way back in the 70's a Pastor in Henderson, NV, felt a need to open ministry on the Las Vegas Strip and did so. He shed his narrow tie / white shirt / dark suit, put on a loud sportcoat and began to move among them--even in the clubs.

Of course, he was royally criticized by fellow SBC ministers for daring to talk with women just after they had left the stage and were in their nude entertainment garb.

The HMB gave him full support and his ministry resulted in a number of women leaving the profession---BECAUSE HE HELPED INSTEAD OF USING THEM as this minister obviously has done.

No matter what our position or who we are, "if you criticize Bill Clinton, be sure you don't just wish you had gotten the favors of a lovely young woman instead of him."

Most men, in such matters, have great difficulty being "pure as the driven snow."

Christiane said...

GENE,

The truth is that there are homeless people, including women and children, in our cities who are being 'turned away' from established services for the homeless, because of the 'over-load', due to the current economic crisis. The recent count in my city was over two hundred people turned away last year.

I think that any man who assumes it's 'understandable' for a woman to demean herself in any money-making
'job', might be missing the point, which is that she STILL has a few 'choices' left.

Goodness, she can always 'sell her blood' to help pay expenses, for a day or two. It wouldn't be the first time a Christian woman got to make that 'choice', would it?

Of course, I am being facetious here, but I do know this:
there is 'big money' in religion
and there is 'big money' in the exploitation of women,

and the drama of the two worlds colliding is heightened by the fact that there is always guilt over the plight of women and children whose lives are much more vulnerable than many of us care to know.

God have mercy on our foolish ways.

Gene Scarborough said...

Good question: "What does 'above reproach' mean?"

To me, it means you never use people---no matter what the relationship is.

I have been in Committee Selection Meeting (which all of us dread) trying to get up the next year's committee members. As we looked over the roster, I (as a Staff Member) noticed several people on 3-4 committees. It was my recommendation that we not use people to the point they had little time for family or job.

In that context, many churches "use people" in my opinion.

Every church leader/pastor who has taken advantage sexually of another trusting person is a user. It is "a part of the business" in adult entertainment.

It is a part of the "hidden business" in churches where sexual immorality takes place.

In my experience, it happened more in the musically gifted ranks, but it also was happening elsewhere.

I got fired for blowing the whistle, but that didn't matter to me because many in the community who chose not to attend church knew EXACTLY WHAT WAS GOING ON!!!

God always knows our hearts as we should know them. "Wolves in sheep's clothing / whitewashed tombs full of dead men's bones" were but 2 images Jesus used to describe deception in the guise of religion to his hearers.

Gene Scarborough said...

Christiane--

Isn't is nice to be back on a blog where people actually communicate over trying to cut each other's throats!!

I think you raise a very valid question. A woman in economic straits still has her moral outlook to consider. However, selling her blood or a second vital organ leaving one so she can live, is a brutal choice.

Throughtout human history I think women have tended to be used by not offering equal pay for equal work to a man. My own daughter is going through a separation from an abusive man. Despite a clear Protective Order, he has pushed the edges enough for her to have him arrested several times.

Here is the famale dilemma: "If I call the cops, what happens to my child support money?"

She is more than fortunate to have a Store Manager job with a major home decorating chain. She makes $60K+, but with 4 boys consuming $200 in groceries alone each week, even she is in a dilemma of "what do I do." Our legal system grants women far too little help in such matters.

She is an above average beautiful woman who could entertain in any adult establishment. My wife and I are helping her financially--and with our time so she doesn't have to spend more on childcare. Even she with high morals could find herself with the stripper question.

When we get real about adult entertainment it offers entertainment, mostly, to men. Yet every establishment hires and uses them as bait for expensive booze and long hours with "club fees" expected.

As a Life Underwriter I tried, once, to get an above-average club to just buy a group health plan for their entertainers and offer it as a fringe benefit--like other businesses who want to keep good employees--it went over like a lead balloon! The day manager wanted something extra to offer his ever-changing workers / Owners wanted "the most for the least paid." In this case, the owner was an active church member even!!!

When we get beneath the surface to "Human Trafficking" we see women and young girls being sold by their Johns in most big cities. This is an iceburg of sexual usery far deeper than we can imagine!! It is even here in rural eastern NC!!

Now, who pays for these services?

Sadly, far too many prominent male church attenders and good-money-making males who don't pay their child support.

What was happening to this grey-haired pastor's family as he spent thousands on his entertainer?

What will the church do to help his wife and children through this tough time--just "pray for them???"

Gene Scarborough said...

Christiane--

Isn't is nice to be back on a blog where people actually communicate over trying to cut each other's throats!!

I think you raise a very valid question. A woman in economic straits still has her moral outlook to consider. However, selling her blood or a second vital organ leaving one so she can live, is a brutal choice.

Throughtout human history I think women have tended to be used by not offering equal pay for equal work to a man. My own daughter is going through a separation from an abusive man. Despite a clear Protective Order, he has pushed the edges enough for her to have him arrested several times.

Here is the famale dilemma: "If I call the cops, what happens to my child support money?"

She is more than fortunate to have a Store Manager job with a major home decorating chain. She makes $60K+, but with 4 boys consuming $200 in groceries alone each week, even she is in a dilemma of "what do I do." Our legal system grants women far too little help in such matters.

She is an above average beautiful woman who could entertain in any adult establishment. My wife and I are helping her financially--and with our time so she doesn't have to spend more on childcare. Even she with high morals could find herself with the stripper question.

When we get real about adult entertainment it offers entertainment, mostly, to men. Yet every establishment hires and uses them as bait for expensive booze and long hours with "club fees" expected.

As a Life Underwriter I tried, once, to get an above-average club to just buy a group health plan for their entertainers and offer it as a fringe benefit--like other businesses who want to keep good employees--it went over like a lead balloon! The day manager wanted something extra to offer his ever-changing workers / Owners wanted "the most for the least paid." In this case, the owner was an active church member even!!!

When we get beneath the surface to "Human Trafficking" we see women and young girls being sold by their Johns in most big cities. This is an iceburg of sexual usery far deeper than we can imagine!! It is even here in rural eastern NC!!

Now, who pays for these services?

Sadly, far too many prominent male church attenders and good-money-making males who don't pay their child support.

What was happening to this grey-haired pastor's family as he spent thousands on his entertainer?

What will the church do to help his wife and children through this tough time--just "pray for them???"

Gene Scarborough said...

Christiane--

Isn't is nice to be back on a blog where people actually communicate over trying to cut each other's throats!!

I think you raise a very valid question. A woman in economic straits still has her moral outlook to consider. However, selling her blood or a second vital organ leaving one so she can live, is a brutal choice.

Throughtout human history I think women have tended to be used by not offering equal pay for equal work to a man. My own daughter is going through a separation from an abusive man. Despite a clear Protective Order, he has pushed the edges enough for her to have him arrested several times.

Here is the famale dilemma: "If I call the cops, what happens to my child support money?"

She is more than fortunate to have a Store Manager job with a major home decorating chain. She makes $60K+, but with 4 boys consuming $200 in groceries alone each week, even she is in a dilemma of "what do I do." Our legal system grants women far too little help in such matters.

She is an above average beautiful woman who could entertain in any adult establishment. My wife and I are helping her financially--and with our time so she doesn't have to spend more on childcare. Even she with high morals could find herself with the stripper question.

When we get real about adult entertainment it offers entertainment, mostly, to men. Yet every establishment hires and uses them as bait for expensive booze and long hours with "club fees" expected.

As a Life Underwriter I tried, once, to get an above-average club to just buy a group health plan for their entertainers and offer it as a fringe benefit--like other businesses who want to keep good employees--it went over like a lead balloon! The day manager wanted something extra to offer his ever-changing workers / Owners wanted "the most for the least paid." In this case, the owner was an active church member even!!!

When we get beneath the surface to "Human Trafficking" we see women and young girls being sold by their Johns in most big cities. This is an iceburg of sexual usery far deeper than we can imagine!! It is even here in rural eastern NC!!

Now, who pays for these services?

Sadly, far too many prominent male church attenders and good-money-making males who don't pay their child support.

What was happening to this grey-haired pastor's family as he spent thousands on his entertainer?

What will the church do to help his wife and children through this tough time--just "pray for them???"

David Montoya said...

Wade,

There is far to much of this going on. Obviously the reporter had an informant who knew this man was a pastor.

It is hard enough to reach the younger generation without this kind of hypocrisy going unchallenged.

There is too much money and too little accountability in the ministry today. I for one appreciate your bring this to you readers attention.

Kevin M. Crowder said...

To The Rapper T Kelley:

I reject the idea that we can define a word without considering its semantic range within the text from which it has been taken, as well as the lexical meaning of the word in its first language. The word "above reproach" is simply an adjective which defines present character. I say "present" in light of Romans 8:1, yet want to clarify that one CAN fall in and out of reproach. To be reproachable is to be censurable, arrestable, apparently guilty, with suspicion, clearly non-transparent. The number one defining character of a man above reproach is transparency. If, a pastor, or a leader, or you T-Kelley were the subject of financially impropitious rumors, and your life and character and ministry were not transparent enough to make clear the accusations as false, or if you, in your guilt or innocent failed to provide sufficient reprieve from reproach, then, clearly your status as """qualified""" would be in question.

But, through transparency and eventual reproach, one can ALWAYS, through repentance and forgiveness, regain the position of being above reproach.

FYI: Pastors who are not transparent are just as guilty of NOT being above reproach as the man of this story of late.


~K

PS: Baptist theology has failed to demand confession and absolution as a regular part of worship. Churches who demand their pastor be above reproach fail to recognize that this is a universal obligation of God's righteousness. (can we say plank?)

New BBC Open Forum said...

When asked if his wife knew about this, his “Yes” had a tone of regret that makes me think he thought his wife called Fox for his own good.

This crossed my mind, too. From the informant's e-mail and text message, it was someone who alleged he was using a church credit card and who knew his schedule. That pretty much narrows it down to his wife, someone inside the church, or someone in the club who knew when he was going to be there, as the reporters always seemed to spot his car outside whenever they'd get a tip.

Christiane said...

Gene,

YES, it is nice to be on a blog where people communicate instead of . . . whatever happened over there on that 'other' blog . . . I couldn't believe it!!!!!
Wade allows frank communication, but not abuse of others.

One very strange blogger was so extreme as to use Our Lord and St. Paul as excuses for an openly malevolent attacks on other bloggers.
For me, that was a shocker. And I wasn't the only one who was shocked by that apparently.
Truth is, I'd not seen that kind of thing done to that degree before. Sometimes, Gene, when I see that sort of thing, I feel like I am looking either into the abyss or at least into an advanced case of emotional disturbance. Scary stuff.

BTW, It sounds like your daughter is surviving as well as can be expected, and at least she has a good job, and very supportive parents. And the boys are healthy.
She has certainly been through many difficult times, according to your descriptions, and she is not alone in our society, either.

Hence concern for all women with children who are struggling to care for them in a society that does not always offer them sanctuary when needed. And sometimes, what seems like 'sanctuary' is just a trap of 'another sort'.

Our society is rife with child abuse, sexual abuse, broken homes, divorces, single parents struggling . . . but when THE CHURCH puts women down as needing to be 'sub' ______ (fill in the blank) then that feeds into all the other attitudes that demean the human dignity of women.
The Church does have a responsibility to lead in a different direction when it comes to validating the dignity of the human person, male or female.

End of rant (for today). :)

Gene Scarborough said...

Christiane--

You have the gift of seeing through BS!!! Because of such, I have witnessed you being given more of your share sub________.

I attended a Healthcare Professionals conference recently in Greenville, NC. Our Pitt County Sheriff's Department has recently received a special grant to investigate Human Trafficing in this area of Eastern NC. Their findings in the initial part of the investigation find find it to be as real here as any larger metropolitan center, like Atlanta.

They showed a video covering the US on this subject. It almost made me literally sick!!!

Part of the video was in Atlanta, which is the closest large metro area near me.

My father was the first Director of Juvenile Rehabilitation for the Atlanta Baptist Association. In that capacity he was Chaplain to the Fulton County Juvenile Court. He worked to get Atlanta churches to assist in helping a JD's family by getting a church family to mentor the child and his family.

It worked!!! A number of them found Christ as a result of my father and the local churches caring.

In this late date presentation, the current Judge of the Court was seen dealing with juvenile females brought before him and charged with Prostitution.

The reality is children used by adults to make money off men who visit them for sex. The Johns disappear and that child is arrested. In this presentation, the Court recognized them as being used rather than consciously participating in crime.

I can't believe that when my father and I were dealing with pre-16 youngsters who were unruly or ran away, now it is being replaced by children caught in sexual acts.

Since 1950-60 this society of ours have reached depths of depravity worthy of Sodom and Gomorrah!!!!

What the article leading to this discussion depicts is far, far worse. What if it were about church men seeking the favors of under-age girls in dark corners of the city where church folks just don't notice a constant stream of men coming to a certain house where young girls and boys live.

I think our consciences should be pricked and we need to do something---QUICK!!!

Tom Kelley said...

Wade Burleson said...
Tom,

"Above reproach" seems to me to be a phrase that is descriptive rather than proscriptive. In other words, the person's life is lived in such a way that people who know believe his character, integrity and actions to be consistent with the character of Christ.


Thanks, Wade, for the response. I agree that “above reproach” is essentially a descriptive term, as are the other character qualities listed for overseers/elders/pastors. But it is pretty easy to see whether a person is not given to drunkenness, not violent, not quarrelsome, etc. Those are mostly a matter of how a person behaves, which is more objective, whereas "above reproach" (or "blameless", in other translations) is more a matter of what someone might think of someone else, which is a more subjective matter.

In mostly prescriptive matters, it is easier to tell if someone is obeying a command like "Don't kill" than it is to determine if they are obeying a command like "Don't hate". Obedience to the former isn't much open to interpretation and is a matter of behavior' obedience to the latter, being a matter of the heart, can be more difficult to ascertain.

Likewise, in more descriptive matters, it is easier to tell if a person is "not given to drunkenness" than it is to tell if a person is "blameless", since one person's idea of blamelessness may differ from another's, whereas drunkenness is less subjective.

So I'm wondering who exactly must be satisfied that someone is blameless, and just what it takes to make that assessment. Does everyone have to agree? (Seems unlikely, as there is always someone who will find fault over something.) Must 90% agree? 51%?

I hope you see what I'm saying. These are things I've thought about a lot, but have yet to truly understand.

-----
Tom

Tom Kelley said...

Kevin M. Crowder said...
I reject the idea that we can define a word without considering its semantic range within the text from which it has been taken, as well as the lexical meaning of the word in its first language.


Kevin, you're right -- I should have said "Not only the lexical definition". What I meant was that I'm trying to understand the practical application as well as the literal definition.

I know the basic meanings of anenklētos ("blameless" in Titus 1:6-7) and anepilēmpton ("above reproach" in 1 Timothy 3:2) and marturian kalēn ("good reputation" in 1 Tim 3:7). What I'm not sure of is how we make an assessment that someone fits that description.

The word "above reproach" is simply an adjective which defines present character. I say "present" in light of Romans 8:1, yet want to clarify that one CAN fall in and out of reproach.

That makes sense, but is there anything in the Timothy or Titus passages that specify it is a matter of present character, rather than a matter of character over time? (I don't think an adjective carries a sense of time like a verb can.) And what exactly constitutes the present? This specific moment? Today? In the past week or so? If someone sinned yesterday in such a way that made others judge the person as still reproachable today, do those people have to change their minds at some later point before he bears no reproach? These are genuine questions that I wonder about.

To be reproachable is to be censurable, arrestable, apparently guilty, with suspicion, clearly non-transparent. The number one defining character of a man above reproach is transparency.

Again, that makes sense, but it shows the somewhat subjective nature of what it means to be above reproach, as another person might feel that transparency is the number two or number three defining character, and that integrity, or something else, is number one.

If, a pastor, or a leader, or you T-Kelley were the subject of financially impropitious rumors, and your life and character and ministry were not transparent enough to make clear the accusations as false, or if you, in your guilt or innocent failed to provide sufficient reprieve from reproach, then, clearly your status as """qualified""" would be in question.

But, through transparency and eventual reproach, one can ALWAYS, through repentance and forgiveness, regain the position of being above reproach.


A key phase in your statement is "sufficient reprieve". How do we decide that? Who decides that? What are the criteria on which all (or even most) can agree?

See my comment above to Wade for more on what I'm getting at. There may be no clear cut answers to my questions, or no easy ones. Or maybe there are, and I'm just dense and not seeing what is obvious to others. Or maybe I am looking for a black-and-white answer, with no room for misunderstanding, when there isn't one. Being analytical by nature, I do that too often.

-----
Tom

Gene Scarborough said...

For me, "above reproach" simply means:

As my wise father said: "It's not how high you jump, it's how straight you walk when you hit the ground!"

Anyone telling the plain truth as Jesus did is subject to character assination. They even accused him of being the devil.

It doesn't get any worse than that! They killed him for telling the absolute truth, BUT--"It's Friday night and Sunday is coming!!"

Lydia said...

Tom, Not to make it even more difficult but the passage seems to say that the person must be above repraoch to the OUTSIDE.

I went and read it in the interlinear and it is even more evident there...the ideal witness to those outside..as in those outside the Body see this person as truly changed and living a life that models being Born Again.

Kevin M. Crowder said...

Tom,

I understand your question, but feel it is the quintessential question of the law/grace dichotomy. It is part of the mysterion of the divine into which salvation itself is apart. Certainly evil itself will attempt to tear down all integrity of those who do God's will. That is the thorn some must bear. But the Bible is clear that truth will set us free...in this life? or the next?

1 Timothy 3:2 states that the overseer "must be." (dei eivai.) this is ambiguous in neither Greek nor English. The "state of being" according to the text is giving a command that one must exist in a state above reproach in congruence with the holding of the office. For present pastors, that time is indeed in the present. If they fall, they can, by the grace of God, be returned to a state of "being above reproach."

The passage cannot be pressed to give further detail on the subject. I am of the opinion, that the nature of grace is the apt place to look. And, for those who are in Christ, He is able to restore.

Will there be scoffers till Christ returns? Sure. But we are called not by scoffers but by Christ. Every situation is different, but when those whom God has placed within the path of the reproached give the nod, then God is pleased to do great things...even if they be different things.

Mark it down however, that Christ removed guilt as well. A less than restored man (and church) is a guilty man not ready to return (to that state of being).

Kevin M. Crowder said...

Lydia,

I disagree.

Lydia said...

Lydia,

I disagree.

Thu Sep 16, 06:15:00 PM 2010

That's ok. I disagree there is even such a thing as an "office" in the Body of Christ. :o)

Kevin M. Crowder said...

Lydia,

OK, you claim something not in the text, I hold to the VERY TEXT.

What then is an episkopos, if not at least an office held?

Lydia said...

What then is an episkopos, if not at least an office held?

Thu Sep 16, 06:32:00 PM 2010

A function of one (tis-anyone)who is spiritually mature in the Body of Christ. It could be the janitor, a fishermen or even a carpenter. :o)

We are not to model the Body of Christ after the world. Does your meter reader hold the "office" of meter reader? Or does he function as a meter reader? I suppose he could hold the "office" of meter reader if he wanted to try and elevate himself in the world's eyes.

The translators, laboring under the divine right of a king, inserted the word office. It fit the church state mentality quite well.

Johnny D. said...

Well, to completely change the subject, I got home from work today and my wife asked me, "So, how is it going with your newly rediscovered faith?"

We had the best talk, and I just knew that while we were talking, my prayers regarding her of just this morning were being answered. No decisions have been made, but we are in the discussion mode. I told her that I won't settle for how we lived out our faith before. We did some incredible things and saw a lot of people brought to faith as God used us (in spite of ourselves), but I said we were still devoid of any real power back in those days. She agreed. I then told her that I'm not sure of much, but I am sure that the key is faith. Jesus admired great faith, and incredible things happened by Him and through Him whenever he encountered great faith.

So, keep praying you all. Things are happening. God is moving, and to God goes all of the glory.

Caleb said...

Lydia,
Are you saying that you do not believe the office of pastor exists as a unique one within the church?

Wade Burleson said...

Caleb,

Believe it or not, I'm not sure I do either.

:)

Anonymous said...

It's very, very difficult for people to step out of a 2,000 year old box. We think it just can't be possible for millions of people to be wrong for thousands of years.

But it is.

Jesus said "Where two or three are gathered in my name" and "neither here nor in Jerusalem but in spirit and truth". The first believers had no committees or trustees but shared everything with each other.

When the church grew some problems arose, but there was never any permanent structure enacted, only a case-by-case solution such as the 7 in Acts who needed to make sure the non-Jewish widows were not being discriminated against.

Paul mentions some things in passing, but instructions on how to organize a "church" are strangely absent from his letters. He never even said how to do "communion" or baptism. All he said was that whatever we do as a group of believers, to do it in an orderly fashion, and that does NOT mean a chain of command.

It's a Body, not a chain, not an army, not a business. The eye cannot say to the hand, "I've got an office and you have to go through me to get to the Head".

Caleb said...

Paul does however single out the idea of an overseer-pastor. I would argue that does establish leader or whatever you want to call it. This is my belief, at least.

Anonymous said...

Caleb, let me clarify.

There are overseerS (plural) for believers in any given area. But these are not office holders, they are role models or mentors. The qualifications are high because others will look up to them, not as authorities but as examples.

Paul specified that these were to be appointed, but on what basis? That they were already spiritually mature and knew the scriptures well. Why was this required? To warn people against false teachings and help keep the Body pure. What happened if they failed? They were to be publicly rebuked as a warning to others.

Guardians on the walls have great responsibility, but they are not kings or bosses. In fact, Paul said that the weakest "parts" deserved the most honor.

"Not so among you" is an upside-down kingdom, where greatness is found in the most lowly and least recognized places. We are to be the waiter, not the guest being served at the table.

I'm aiming for the next life.

Caleb said...

Anonymous,
I agree with you for the most part. However, I believe there is a level of authority involved with the office of pastor. On top of what Paul stated and my personal view of that, the book of Hebrews says in
Hebrews 13:17, "Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you."
In this verse I see and agree with your idea of a watchman but also see my view of a level of authority. I would also note that we are accountable to God for how we used or abused that authority. So I guess I halfway agree with you and halfway disagree with you I that is possible. :)

Anonymous said...

Caleb,

I believe there is no "office" and no "authority" involved. ;-)

Hebrews 13:17 says (looking at the Greek), "Remember your leaders who spoke the Word of God to you; consider the outcome of their behavior and imitate their faith."

There is no word for "authority" there at all, but "remember" and "leaders"; it speaks of the ones who had brought them the gospel originally.

Each of us is accountable for how we build on the foundation (1 Cor. 3), but those who lead are held to a higher standard of morality and faithfulness due to their influence as mentors and models. But again, since scripture never puts any word for authority in passages about these leaders, I see no basis for such authority.

And once again, if the scriptural model of the church is a body, then one part cannot rule over another, regardless of the manner of that rule. I can't see any way out of that, nor would I want one. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Correction: I quoted Heb. 13:7 instead of 13:17, but that verse reads very similarly:

"Be persuaded by the ones leading you and defer to them, for they are vigilant for the sake of your souls and must give an account. This way they can do this with joy and not grief, which would not be to your advantage."

Caleb said...

We are going to have to agree to disagree on this one.

Lydia said...

I hear you, Johnny, and have your back in praying. Faith is IT.

Rex Ray said...

Caleb,
Did the first bishop of Antioch believe Hebrews 13: 17 (“Obey your leaders and submit to their authority…Obey them…) when he wrote?:

“We ought to receive every one whom the Master of the house sends to be over His household, as we would do Him that sent him. It is manifest, therefore, that we should look upon the bishop even as we would upon the Lord Himself.”

I believe this kind of thinking led to the Catholic religion.

Anonymous,
I agree with your thinking that there is no office and no authority in Hebrews 13:7, but this is NOT portrayed by “The Elder” when he wrote:

“…Diotrephes…does NOT admit my authority over him and refuses to listen to me. When I come I will tell you…what wicked things he is saying about me and what insulting language he is using…” (Third John 1:9-10 Living)

I believe the author of Third John was not Apostle John but was who he said he was.

History records Elder John had new traditions.

Strong’s Study Bible: “Diotrephes resisted the authority of the elders in the church. He attacked them publicly, and forbade the reception of John and his adherents.”

Did these adherents have letters of recommendation like the men who taught the Corinthians: “...to obey every law of God or die”?

Was Elder’s traditions?:
“Beware of... losing the prize [Heaven?] that you and I have been working so hard to get [Faith plus works?]...if you wander beyond the teaching of Christ [stopped works?] you will leave God behind [going to hell?] …” (2 John 1:8-10)

I believe Diotrephes took Paul’s advice literally:
“Let God’s curse fall on anyone...who preaches any other way to be saved...if an angel comes from heaven and preaches any other message, let him be forever cursed.” (Galatians 1:8)

Anonymous said...

Rex Ray,

Interesting hypothesis. But I can't find any Greek word for 'authority' in the passage on Diotrephes. I think the LB has inserted meaning into the text that is not there. I read it as that Diotrephes is gossiping and being a control freak, and John's objection is to this behavior. Combining this with the scholarship identifying this author with the other letters and the gospel of John (by both style and ancient witness), I think that it is Diotrephes who wished to "lord over", and John did not claim authority.

Rex Ray said...

Anonymous,
Usually a ‘tracker’ is though of as one who finds a trail and follows it to the one being sought, but the opposite can be true.

That is, the ‘tracker’ can start where a person is and follow his ‘back trail’ to where the person has been.

Such is the study of Catholics. They were given their name in 313 AD. To find their source, start their back trail at 215 AD when the majority started baptizing babies for salvation.

The minority of Christians were given the hated name of Anabaptist. Was this a split or had the split occurred in the 90’s when Elder John wrote?

“These people left our churches, but they never really belonged with us; otherwise they would have stayed with us. When they left, it proved that they did not belong with us.” (1 John 2:19 NLT)

J. M. Carroll might have been the greatest historian preacher that ever lived. Until the Conservative Resurgence his picture was displayed as SWBTS.

He wrote the ‘back trail’ of Baptist in Trail of Blood. He wrote:

“These great churches necessarily had many preachers or elders. Some of the bishops or pastors began to assume authority not given them in the New Testament. They began to claim authority over other and smaller churches. They, with their many elders, began to lord it over God's heritage (III John 9). Here was the beginning of an error which has grown and multiplied into many other seriously hurtful errors. Here was the beginning of different orders in the ministry running up finally to what is practiced now by others as well as Catholics. Here began what resulted in an entire change from the original democratic policy and government of the early churches. This irregularity began in a small way, even before the close of the second century. This was possibly the first serious departure from the New Testament church order.”

Anonymous, notice in III John 9, Diotrephes was pastor of a small church while John was elder of a large church, and Strong’s Study Bible did not say Diotrephes attacked Apostles but attacked Elders.

I believe Diotrephes’ church was one of the ones Elder John referred to when he said, “These people left our churches…”

Maybe, Diotrephes agreed with President Carter in saying: “…I didn’t leave; they left me.”