Sunday, June 20, 2010

Preaching Grace from the Pulpits on Sunday, Living Legalism the Rest of the Week?

Jack Beavers sent me a link to an article in the Fort Worth Star Telegram with a profile on Joel Gregory, former pastor of First Baptist Church, Dallas, Texas and Southern Baptist Convention celebrity. Joel is now ministering in black churches across America. Toward the end of the article, in explaining the ministry he has in now in black churches, Joel Gregory is quoted as saying:

"To some degree, white evangelicals preach grace. But when it comes to dealing with real-life situations, there's a good deal more judgmentalism and legalism. Black churches not only preach grace, they are willing to take you where you are and if you fall down, really try to help you get up, and not punish you."

Interesting. I wonder if the root problem is we Southern Baptists have far too high an opinion of ourselves. In other words, we so often boast of our numbers, our leadership, our evangelical superiority, that I wonder if the problem is we can't handle messiness, trouble, or failure.

Sometimes prophets are needed to humble the proud. If for no other reason, I am glad there are Southern Baptist blogs because they keep those of us in the Southern Baptist Convention real.


B Nettles said...

Even legalists need grace from other Christians. Unfortunately, there's usually a failure to realize that it's needed. The infamous Somebody said, "I can tolerate anybody except someone who's intolerant."

Joel G. has probably seen both sides of that fence.

Anonymous said...

This is something that I have been saying for years. Southern Baptist talk a good Grace game, but woe to you if.....your skirt is too short, your shirt is cut a tad too low, you actually enjoy a drink now and then, you have a tattoo, you let a 'bad' word slip, you watch soap operas....I could go on.

Are we saved by grace or aren't we? You can't preach grace then wonder if someone is truly saved if they commit some minor 'sin.'

All the 'convictions' people got over stupid little things just drove me bonkers. Yeah.....God 'convicted' you that you should not watch X show because of a gay character, but he says NOTHING about feeding the homeless man that hangs out on the corner near the church? RIIIIIIGGGHHHTTTTT.

Chris Ryan said...

Dr. Gregory is also a Truett Seminary professor of preaching (shameless plug), and I am very blessed to have had a preaching class with him and now to serve as his Teaching Assistant. The blessing comes from those little moments when he is saying profound things without even meaning too. For example:

He had somehow gotten on the topic of Jesus' "inner circle." And he mentioned a detail of those stories that I already happened to agree with. He asked us, "What if those people closest to Jesus were there because they were the ones He needed to keep an eye on. They were the ones who needed to see all those special things. Thomas, he was a doubter but he was loyal. He was shocked by the resurrection, but he was ready to go to Jerusalem to die for Jesus." So far, I'm following. But then he goes to medelling. "Perhaps we are called to preach because God knew we would have to be professionally tied to the scriptures lest we be the sorriest of Christians on the face of the planet."

He said that meaning to apply it to himself. And if you know his story, this takes on even greater significance. But, somehow, I knew he was telling my story as well. And I think that is what makes him such a good preacher (and person): the Gospel has such meaning and presence in his life that the Gospel just oozes on to you when you are around him. You can't help but experience some of the grace that he has experienced and that he preaches so passionately.

Unknown said...

Chris Ryan,

Thank you for gracious words from someone who knows Joel very well.

Hi Ryan, does he has sermons online?


The Cynical Muse said...

This reminds me of a movie I saw, with Michael W. Smith, called Second Chance. It was excellent in trying to remind the "mega-churches" that our goal is to preach the gospel, and deliver the sinner from bondage, not merely make money and grow.
I recently posted a blog on this very issue.

WTJeff said...

What I love about Dr. Gregory is when he speaks of his past he will say something to the effect of, "I'm not interested in making indiscriminate confessions that will only serve as fodder for gossip." His past isn't the point. God's grace is. He continues to not only be an example of it, but has allowed it to humble him and be an even more effective servant. I learn more about myself and God's grace each time I hear him speak.

foxofbama said...

You are a focus of chat this morning at SBCVoices blog.
There I have goaded you to take a look at Robert Parham's essay up today at on Denzel Washington and the Book of Eli.
Will be interesting to see what you do with that.
To go deeper into Joel Gregory's latest adventure, I hope you will make an effort to google up the sublime conversation recently on with Viola Davis and Kenny Leon about August Wilson's great play Fences.
And I hope Joel Gregory gets word of that discussion as well. Viola Davis may already be where Gregory yearns to go.

Ron said...


It is good to hear about Joel Gregory. He was my pastor at Gambrel Street Baptist in Ft. Worth back in the 70s when I was a seminary student and your father was at Southcliff. He was and is one of the most gifted preachers in the SBC. I was blessed to sit under his preaching at that time.

I would recommend anyone read his book “Too Great a Temptation” to get a good understanding of how ego, pride and covetousness were the driving forces in the Conservative Resurgence. That has not changed. He gave many insights to the inner workings of the CR and the actions and motives of its leaders.

Joel’s career is an interesting study in the way the CR has warped the thinking of many pastors in our convention. When he was at Gambrel Street, he had many seminary professors in his church and he was a supporter of the seminary and its faculty. Russell Dilday hired him as a preaching professor at SWBTS. He later went to one of the large traditional churches in Texas at Travis Avenue where again he pastored many seminary professors. It was then that he gave in to the Temptation he wrote about in his book when he shamelessly sold out on his integrity and betrayed his friends at Southwestern including Russell Dilday in order to be called as pastor at First Baptist Dallas. It is ironic that he is now teaching at Truett Seminary, a part of Baylor University, when only a few years ago he joined W.A. Criswell in attacking Baylor and threatening a lawsuit against Baylor. His rise and fall is a tragic story but even he must admit his wounds were mostly self inflicted. It is interesting to view the difference between Joel and men like Russell Dilday and Richard Jackson who stayed true to their convictions as opposed to Joel who changed directions every time he saw an opportunity.

His sermon at the SBC the year Jerry Vines defeated Richard Jackson was one of the great sermons in SBC Convention history. Unfortunately, it was only words. Neither he nor the CR leaders who applauded followed through with the clear Biblical principles he preached.

As a side note, Joel was rewarded with a seat on the IMB trustee board after quietly stepping aside and letting Paige Patterson take his seat the first time he was nominated. His most significant action was to serve as chairmen of the search committee that choose Jerry Rankin to be president of the IMB. If you support the direction of the IMB under Jerry’s leadership, you owe Joel Gregory a word of gratitude.

His comments on Grace in the SBC are right on. I hope he has found peace and is serving as a mentor and teacher to the students at Truett. They can learn much from him about what a preacher should and should not be.

Anonymous said...

ron, for those who don't agree with the way the IMB has gone over these years I guess we wish Joel was still at Gambrell St! at least his changing directions finally for the better, had some positive benefits for him and for Truett...

Steve said...

Somehow the outdated saw about "only small churches are good" pops up again in the strangest places. All I know is, two of the biggest Baptist churches in our town are the very two where I have heard the gospel most honestly preached, and the Scriptures most clearly presented.

Anonymous said...

Joel Gregory is my favorite preacher and I still listen to his tapes that are 20 years old. I am amazed at the spiritual gifts of preaching that God gave him.

Grace is required of all of us. But if your small child bites the neighbor's child on the arm do you say, "That's okay, no problem." and pat your child on the head? No, I think we all agree there are measures of discipline to be applied if the best results are desired.

I'm glad that Wade wrote this post. It presents the forum for asking some questions that should be asked but which may not be comfortable in pursuing.

1. Is a man disqualified from being a pastor or preaching if he and his wife were married as Christians and then divorce?

2. When a Christian man and woman divorce are they divorced in God's eyes or are they considered by Him to be married regardless of what secular courts say? Are they still married to their original, Christian spouse in God's eyes?

3. Should we take Jesus literally when He says that a man that divorces his wife and marries another is living in adultery?

4. Is a pastor or preacher of the Gospel disqualified in that role if they are living in adultery?

5. Is the church, you and I, commanded to examine, protect and maintain the integrity of church leadership?

6. Does God's grace trump His righteousness? The Cross is the answer of course. He neither compromised grace or righteousness there. Both were fulfilled 100%.

I know, many will say that I am being judgmental in asking these uncomfortable questions. I know, if the black churches do not hold a man accountable for those things mentioned they are considered to have more grace than white Southern Baptist churches. Seems racist to me to profile churches by race, but that’s what Joel is saying.

Maybe someone can shed some light on the personal situation of Joel Gregory that will make my questions mute. I sure hope so because I love his preaching.

Anonymous said...

We need to understand what divorce is and when it happens. We tend to think it is a piece of paper conferred by the courts. It starts much earlier than that by breaking vows with neglect, abuse, etc.

David Instone Brewer has done excellent research on this.

shadowspring said...

You know, I was out of line with a Christian family I love once, and when I came to my senses I was horrified. I called the next day to sincerely and humbly repent because it was the right thing to do. I never expected to be forgiven because the Christians in my world would never forgive an outburst of anger!

I was floored that this Christian family truly and quickly forgave me! Really forgave me, as in it did not affect our relationship, they didn't withhold friendship from me, I didn't notice mutual friends withdrawing from me as they would in the white church.

My experience bears out your observation. Black Baptist apparently actually practice grace and love, not merely preach about it. It still amazes me that a Christian would actually truly forgive a repentant person without a period of ostracization first.

Amazing love, how can it be?

Lydia said...

To be saved we must repent. The whole point is that we are new creations. Not perfect but growing in Holiness...bearing fruit because we are attached to the Vine.

I guess I am a bit confused as to how far we take this 'grace' living. Should we continue to ignore a congential liar who claims to be a Christian? How about an abuser? How about a leader who spiritually abuses his position?

What is ironic is that each of the above will demand grace be given to them over and over. Either forgive or you are bitter. But they never seem to have actual repentance. (Sorry is not repentence)

Would grace demand we continue in fellowship/relationship with them?

Paul Burleson said...


A couple of things I know to be true because I was there.

One is when I pastored Southcliff and some unusually good things were happening that none of us could explain or take credit Sunday morning I had finished preaching and this guy, a bit unusual looking to me at the time, came up and said and I quote.."I bring you fraternal greetings my friend. I'm Joel Gregory the new pastor at Gambrell Street Baptist. I came to town early so I could come hear you preach and tell you what a privilage it is for me to share ministry with you and your good church in this city." We launched a friendship that continues to this day.

The other thing is, I had Joel tell me this and then he shared it in several statewide conferences when he would preach on intercessory prayer. He told me that a few months into his rather difficult ministry at GS at the time, as he would drive by Southcliff with the parking lots already getting full, he would question the Lord as to why this wasn't happening at the church he pastored.

He said the Lord gently reminded him that his was to pray for our [Southcliff's] continued success and leave GS in His hands. He told me that from that day forward he prayed as he passed "Lord anoint and bless the ministry happening here [Southcliff] today.

God did bless us and what He did at Gambrell Street and other places through Joel is history and so far exceeds, from my own perspective, whatever I've seen accomplished it's unbelievable.

Final thought. When we get to heaven I think we're going to see the heart of many of us who failed [Divorce..whatever] and hated it, wept over it, broken because of it but will see God reward the longing of THE HEART. [As He did David.]

I'm fearful that many of us who have NOT failed from the pespective of the religious world in some particular thing but stayed correct in that behavior wishing all the time we COULD do it, [Whatever it is] but didn't BECAUSE of concern of what people would say, loss of ministry, or just plain fear of consequences, will find a loss of reward also perhaps.

Everthing is, after all, an issue of the heart is it not?

Anonymous said...

I have always been facinated by church attitudes on divorce who claim the Bible and toss around "what the Bible says" or We don't find it in the Bible.

In the NT there is NO example of a CHRISTIAN MARRIAGE. There is no example of a CHRISTIAN CHURCH BUILDING. (therefore all meetings not in not in a house or outside must be wrong because we have NO BIBLICAL EXAMPLE) The only divorce in the Bible is God divorcing Israel.

In the "husband of one wife scripture" doesn't it literally translate,
one woman man" . In that same scripture, the word "ONLY" does not appear in the text, it is added so, in fact, isn't that translation heresy because we added to God's Word. If it is OK to add the word "only" isn't it ok to add "at least" In that same verse, the word "divorce" is not there so once again we have added a word that is not there to suit out desired meaning.

So, since we have no Christian marrige in the Bible, it must be that he is discussing everything Jewish. WE can assume all we want but you cannot prove the writer is speaking of marrige inside a Christian organization.


Let me recommend a good book thet you might hate. "Divorce, God's Gift of Love".

Anonymous said...

"Should we take Jesus literally when He says that a man that divorces his wife and marries another is living in adultery"

When Christ said this He is speaking to Jews, not Christions and is addressing the "putting away" of a wife which is turning her out without giveing her a letter of divorcement. That awful practice still goes on today."

Also, how do you handle the verse " The gifts and the callings of God are irrevocable."

Unknown said...

Paul Burleson,

Your wise words touch and encourage my heart when I needed it. A few minutes ago I was thinking: too much bitterness, negativity, and judgmentalism in and among the evangelicals--should I find another religion? Not that I can find one, but I am just tired of these foul air in our 'religion.' Then I read a breath of fresh air in your post.

Paul, I will email you I need your counsel if it is OK.

Thank you


Paul Burleson said...


It certainly is.

Anonymous said...

Ego, pride, and covetousness were indeed the driving forces in the CR but they weren't only on one side of the aisle. The left was just as wrong as the right.

BTW, Joel didn't fall because of his ego. He fell because of his actions. I am glad he has turned his life around though and is still being used by the Lord.

Chris Ryan said...

I don't know that there are a great many sermons online. I have the link to archived Chapel sermons from Truett. Dr. Gregory has two great sermons on there ("Unexpected Doorways" floored me when he preached it in chapel).

Some sermons from his ministry site are at the following link.

Unknown said...


I just finished listen to the Doorways--surely a deeply genuinely transparent sermon. Touched my heart in a very special way.

It was cut off or finished when he was still speaking of the vertical wheel turning the horizontal one.

God's grace found and restored him inspite of himself and others.

This big machine called SBC can be an evil device in the hands of ambitious but not spiritual people.


Anonymous said...

I appreciate some of the thoughts in response to my bringing up divorce of church leaders. It's very interesting to hear the perspective of others and I imagined that there are differing positions and interpretations out there.

Divorce is so rampant these days that I thought there must be a tendency to qualify it in some way differently than I portrayed.

I personally believe that the church today avoids addressing this terribly destructive aspect of culture that has totally penetrated the body of Christ. In the past 50 years the occurrence of Christians being divorced has gone from being a rarity to being the norm. It seems inconceivable to me that at least as many Christians are experiencing divorce as non-believers.

A possible explanation for the divorce epidemic penetrating the body of Christ is that we do not hear more radical and strong preaching about divorce from the pulpits in our churches. The culture has successfully desensitized the church to the issue. We're losing our salt.

One point in response to Anonymous' saying there were no "Christian" marriages in the New Testament: Of course I agree. I should not have used that terminology.

My intentions were to differentiate between a marriage that includes both the husband and wife having a relationship with God as Lord of their lives, in other words, a joining of "three". This type of "Godly" marriage would not be limited to a commitment between the man and woman. The couple would also be making a commitment to submit to God as Lord of their union. This can only happen if they have a relationship individually with God to begin with.

I also used the terminology of "Christian" marriage because the only way you can have a relationship with God is through Christ. So the reference is made in that regard as "Christian" marriage as opposed to those who do not have such a relationship that includes God but simply "getting married" in the eyes of the world.

It is at least as important to correctly define "marriage" as it is to define "divorce". In my estimation, if God does not ordain the joining of the couple and He's not included in their relationship then they're not married in His eyes.

Therefore, if a non-believing couple get a "divorce" it's merely a technical, secular matter given that they were never married in God's eyes to begin with. So I would consider that as being that they just stopped living together.

But it's totally okay if you disagree. I'm sure the majority of people in the pews today would.

Anonymous said...

I have no personal knowledge of this situation. I do know that our churches do not hold our members to the standards that we should. I have not been in a church that did not allow grace. These were all almost exclusively white SBC churches. The grace was extended to adulterers who confessed their sin before the church. Grace was extended to unwed teen mothers. Grace was extended to a prominent pastor who from the pulpit called a letter writer an idiot and the next week apologized. I don't think I my circumstances are unusual. I think grace is shown more than we think. I think we do not give our churches enough credit

Anonymous said...

For once someone finally gives the churches a little credit for doing the right thing. Churches are far better than some self-appointed bloggers tend to think.

Anonymous said...

Isn't Charles Stanley divorced? Interesting....

Anonymous said...

since ya'll toss around "we don't see it in the bible, and the is no bible example," etc, shouldn't all marriages be done only in the name of God in the Jewish traditional way and not in the Name of Jesus Christ?.

I mean that "tongue in cheek" but just once I wish I could find a conservative resurgence person who actually tries to be consistant in application and interpretation.

The foolishness of all we argue about with baptism is a great example. it is estimate that 50 million have died over that subject.

If, AS YA'LL SAY, "the Bible gives us the example and we will follow WHAT IT ACTUALLY SAYS" fits all things then why do we not use it in all things.EX. "do not forbid the speaking in tongues" women deacons, and on and on and on. we are making ourselves irrelevant with Phariseisms (is that a word?)Mohlerisms and Pattersonisms.

Instead we create convulated interpretation methods to suit ourselves or our agenda. NO WONDER THE SBC IS DYING ON THE VINE. OUR FRUIT IS NOT TO HIS GLORY BUT TO THE IDOL OF CONFORMITY.

Anonymous said...

We should give all the grace necessary---for believers to grow up into the image of Christ; at some point, the entire enterprise (e.g., local churches where tertiary matters are primary) no longer should stand-still---serious believers have to move forwarded as directed by the Lord in His Word . . . ? Not the same as legalism; somewhat off-topic.

Anonymous said...

Inconsistency and needlessly complex theology are two very, Very, VERY big problems in the SBC or any other denom. The creativity of some "great theologians" and "scholars" is confused with reason and faithfulness, and only elevates themselves while convincing most people that these elites are specially gifted far above that which any of them can imagine. Complexity is what enables this great divide in the Body.

Contrast with Paul:
"though I myself have reasons for such confidence. If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless. But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. "


"For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written:
"I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate."
Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?"

Consider also these words from an earlier generation in the US:
"So also did Henry Ward Beecher reason in his climactic public statement on the eve of conflict. Maybe, he conceded, a defense of slavery could be teased out of obscure, individual texts of scripture, but surely the defining message of the Bible was something else entirely. In his fast day sermon of January 4, 1861, Beeeher strenuously appealed to the general meaning of the Bible as opposed to the pedantic literalism that undergirded the proslavery view: “‘I came to open the prison-doors,’ said Christ; and that is the text on which men justify shutting them and locking them. ‘I came to loose those that are bound’; and that is the text out of which men spin cords to bind men, women, and children. ‘I came to carry light to them that are in darkness and deliverance to the oppressed’; and that is the Book from out of which they argue, with amazing ingenuity, all the infernal meshes and snares by which to keep men in bondage. It is pitiful.”

I find most interpretive methods inconsistent at best and designed to put words in God's mouth at worst. This, not "what the Bible says", is the root and lifeblood of most debates among believers.

-- Nobody

New BBC Open Forum said...

I highly recommend Joel Gregory's book, Too Great a Temptation, although I felt like I needed a shower every time I put it down. I'm sure, as he stated in the beginning, the book just covered the "mild stuff."

Here Gregory described the infamous airport meeting where the SBC bigwigs met to try to save Paige Patterson's job at Criswell College.

After opening the meeting I let the visiting dignitaries have their say. And have it they did. These pastors were not in the habit of interference from laymen in their churches. They ruled like kings. They proceeded to lecture the trustees [of Criswell College] at length concerning the person and value of Paige Patterson. Jerry Vines and Charles Stanley were clearly hot. Stanley recounted his own battles at First Baptist, Atlanta. On his accession to the pastorate, an oligarchy of laypersons opposed him. He then spelled out to Bo Sexton [trustee chairman] and the trustees the horrible things that had happened to the families of those who opposed him: disease, death, divorce, etc. The implication was clear: if you touch Paige Patterson, God will get you. I was sitting next to Bo and thought he would explode.

Actually, Patterson almost comes across as a sympathetic figure in this book. (Key word: "almost.")

Michelle said...

Indeed, not only the SBC: There are PCA churches that talk about grace, and about faith alone, and are stiflingly legalistic. I've gone through the anger phase (mostly) and now it makes me sad.

I do struggle with having grace for legalists (a problem that the first commenter mentioned).

Anonymous said...

Let's not forget that Joel's book (Too Great A Temptation) was one man's viewpoint. Not all agree with what he wrote. There are always two sides to a story.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous; Right on!

Anonymous said...

Let's not forget that Joel's book (Too Great A Temptation) was one man's viewpoint. Not all agree with what he wrote. There are always two sides to a story.

Mon Jun 21, 11:06:00 PM 2010

Anyone who has worked at high levels in mega churches could relate to that book. It all sounded so familiar.

Anonymous said...

I can assure you that Joel was a part of the "king system" and only denounced after he got caught doing something he wasn't supposed to be doing. It had nothing to do with his not liking what he was seeing. I can still remember seeing him at meetings with Dr. Criswell and having Dr. Criswell pat him on the head.

Paul Burleson said...



Joel DID get caught up in the system. He DID get caught. He was guilty of some things of his own choosing and some that were not of his own choosing. He has admitted that with brokenness.

To conclude his motive for repentence is BECAUSE he was caught is to go a level above any of our paygrade abilities in my judgment.

He didn't start out that way and he hasn't wound up that way. Failure, repentence, brokenness, and restoration are still the greatest testimony that can be given to the grace of God.

Whether one is the prodigal returning or the elder brother who never left the field, we need to remember that both boys were missing out on a REAL relationship with the Father because relationship is not a matter of geography. [In the church__Institutional__ or ministry or out of the church__Institutional__ or ministry. It's a heart matter.

Gene S said...

I met Joel Gregory as he was promoting his "Too Great a Temptation" at the NC Baptist State Convention. The editor, Gene Puckett, ran my extensive analysis filled with quote after quote. It was a full 2+ pages which is almost unheard of.

He exposed his own ego and that of W.A.Criswell who really was the mastermind of the CR takeover. Some 30+ years later, the SBC is still in a mess not to be blamed on those who were forced out!

Here, in my opinion, is the problem of so many preachers like Joel these days:

(1) They lust for power over godliness.
(2) They all walk on feet of clay.
(3) They say what is attracting followers rather than clear truth.
(4) Few begin to recognize their hubris.
(5) God is allowing more and more of the supposed "godliness" to be seen as Wade and other expose is as did Gregory.

If we humble outselves and quit playing games, we might find the "Road Not Taken" in recent years. I hope Joel, like David, has returned to trusting God without so much ego in the way.

Lydia said...

"I can assure you that Joel was a part of the "king system" and only denounced after he got caught doing something he wasn't supposed to be doing. It had nothing to do with his not liking what he was seeing. "

It is not unusual for one to become like those he associates with. I am glad he got out.

Anonymous said...

To say that Dr. Criswell was the mastermind is simply not true. It was not in his nature. The masterminds at that time were Judge Pressler and Paige Patterson along with plenty of help from Charles Stanley, Adrian Rogers, and Jerry Vines.

I too am glad that Joel has come through it all but please don't make him a martyr for the things he has done. He made deliberate choices in the matter. It does show God's amazing grace through it all though.

Anonymous said...

"I can assure you that Joel was a part of the "king system" and only denounced after he got caught doing something he wasn't supposed to be doing. It had nothing to do with his not liking what he was seeing. "

Got caught before or after his book was published?

Anonymous said...

Well before the book was published.

Unknown said...

Paul Burleson,

Your post(s) always bring some spiritual and loving air to this ugly intellectual and arrogant discussion. I have never seen so much hatred before I became a believer when I was 22.


Unknown said...


I guess pastors in this blog must be afraid if they should get exposed too.


Michael said...

It has been interesting to see how the posts have digressed from a valid analysis of our need to live out grace, to an all out character assassination of Joel Gregory regarding things that happened decades ago. Ironic.

Living out grace doesn't mean we do not have discernment as Christians, in order to make proper judgements. In fact, Paul rebukes the Corinthians for not judging rightly. Living out grace allows proper discernment, but not condemnation.

Love is kind.
Love is not arrogant.
Love does not act unbecomingly.
Love believes all things.
Love hopes all things.

I'll let you readers discern correctly whether or not love has been shown in this thread.

I don't like the things that happened at FBC or the things done by Gregory. I also don't like the lying and manipulation done by my former pastor, either. I also don't like the things I do every day.

But, I receive and will not deny that Jesus was delivered up for my transgressions and was raised for my justification, my former pastor's justification, and Gregory's justification. And I hope that he is restored, as he seems to be, as we all have been restored.

Anonymous said...

Gene S. said . . .

To Richard --- YEP!

To Michael --- About as good a thing that has been said all day!

We all walk on feet of clay, but God knows our hearts. I sleep well tonight and have constructive tree work to do tomorrow.

No time for "puter play."

Anonymous said...

Any reader with even a limited sense of irony must smile at half of these posts. Half of them make Joel's very point. The detached, glib and pharisaic judgmentalism underscores the lack of care, compassion or grace indigenous to fundamentalism. If these pathetic people cared about Joel - or anyone for that matter - they would first find him and speak to him rather than about him. Fundamentalists with their inerrant Bible do NOT take it inerrantly at all. Matthew 18 clearly commands from the lips of Jesus Himself that you talk face to face with someone, anyone, you consider needs correction. Galatians 6 does not command you to take to a blog and demean them but to restore them with gentleness. Half of the posts here demonstrate biblicists that either do not believe or do not practice Scripture.

Further, Joel has repeatedly and publicly stated that divorce is a sin and a failure, including the most recent Star-Telegram article. How many fundamentalist leaders or followers have admitted to any sin in three major articles in metropolitan dailies in the very cities where they live?

The graceless fundamentalists would do well to consider the remarks of Jesus in the Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican. The Pharisee who took to the blogs of his day and congratulated himself that he was not like the publican is literally a joke to Jesus. The publican who repented of his sin before God (not before the SBC in full session so they could get their pound of flesh) went down justified.

Joel's book has been ignored by almost every blogger here. The book calls on white churches to find characteristics in the black church that would be of great help to white churches. Of course, I guess that topic would make people uncomfortable whose denomination was born when abolitionist Baptists in the north would not let a racist southerner take his slaves with him to the mission field. See Southern Baptist Convention, 1845, Origins.

Darrell said...

I love Dr Gregory and wish I could study under him. Now, I have a question....where does the bible say that divorce is a sin. In Malachi, God says "I hate the putting away" and we have mis represented that verse to say "I hate divorce" but where does it say it is a sin. Is it talking to a jewish group? Is it before or after Christ raising from the dead and the coming of the Holy Spirit? There was no Christian Church before those 2 things happened. Is this just something else that the "good ol boy" system, beginning with the Pharisees, thru the catholic and now down to us as "that's just the way it is."

Have I missed it, does the Bible actually say that it is a sin?

Joel sinned in adultry yes, but?????????

Unknown said...


You give an interesting view. Why don't you elaborate some more.

Darrell said...

The silence is deaffening.Could it be that no one wants to touch it because of the persecution.

A simple yes or no answer will do.

Remember, how this works. The scripplain says, without reservation "DO NOT FORBID THE SPEAKING OF TONGUES." I had a PhD tell me he could prove it was only for then but it would take 2-3 hours and I probably wouldn't believe it anyway.

I responded, Gods Word says DO NOT FORBID....THAT KIND OF NARROWS IT DOWN.

We twist so my scripture on so many things and all we have to do is get a group, any group of our "good old boys" to agree and it last for centuries, ex. Synod of Dort. Courts of Lyon etc.

Christ covered it when he slammed traditions.

The question remains, it is aisimple yes or no question.

refusing cookin cutter religion

I AM (tee-hee)
Darrell ( I think )

Michael said...

There is no misrepresentation in Malachi. Sure, the Hebrew word means to send away, but the context is clear, since God is rebuking the way they are treating the wives of their youth.

In Malachi, God is rebuking the priests in various areas, dealing with their deceitful and corrupt hearts. They were offering blemished sacrifices, they were not bringing the whole tithe, and they were treating their wives treacherously and sending them away, breaking covenant with them.

If God required those who raped virgins to marry them and forbade to ever divorce them, how much more does He require that we keep covenant with our wives and not divorce them. We make a vow to God and He tells us to pay our vows to Him.

Jesus said in Matt 5:32, "but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the reason of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. We know adultery is a sin, right? Jesus tells us in Matthew 19 that Moses allowed divorce, but from the beginning it has not been this way…because the two became one flesh.

Everything which is not of faith is sin. Without faith it is impossible to please Him. Is divorce of faith?Faith comes from hearing and hearing by the word of God. Where have you read in God's word his encouragement to break covenant with your wife and divorce her or send her away? If you haven't, then there is no basis for you to, in faith, divorce. And again, anything which is not of faith is sin.

One final note to the person who said God divorced Israel. Read the context. Israel and Judah were playing the harlot. They were completely unfaithful and God was asking them to return. God, in His blamelessness and righteousness was going to put Israel away in the same way that Joseph was willing to put Mary away because of perceived unfaithfulness. The law allowed death for unfaithfulness, but in His mercy he was putting Israel away. But if you read further, God was still imploring Israel to return, so they would not be put away.

Let's get real, there are a host of things we know are sin without the bible having to have the word sin in the same sentence. Honestly, when I read a post asking whether or not divorce is a sin, it reminds me of the hardness of heart Jesus was referring to.

Anonymous said...

'. . . as the Father hath sent me, I also send you . . '

How was Our Lord 'with' people, when He was here among us?
We know He was stern 'with' hypocrites and with those who thought 'too much' of their own self-righteousness and holiness.

But He was filled 'with' compassion for those 'who were harassed' and 'helpless' and 'without a Shepherd'.
He had enough compassion for them to move among them healing their suffering, and, in the end to die for them.

Are we ourselves called to 'model' His Ways with people? Or, like the righteous Pharisee, are we to stand in the temple and say 'I thank God that I am not like that sinner?'?

If the answer is the former:
then He, the Lord Christ as 'Role Model', has left us a with legacy of humility and service.
We are 'sent forth' to love and serve the Lord, in humility.
The Great Commission wasn't restricted to a just a few, you know. It is for all Christian people who respond to 'go, you are sent forth to love and serve the Lord'.

Darrell said...

Putting away was turning them out to pasture without a written divorce. most of these women became outcasts and/or prostitutes.

adultry is a sin, but not an unforgivable sin. it DOES NOT say that divorce is a sin.

Why don't we attack the type of sins done to people like sherry klouda with the passion we attack divorce? why don't we attack sins like deciet and lying (liberty university president) like we do divorce? It is simple...MEN IN POWERFUL POSITIONS MAKE RULES AND ONLY APPOINT WOMEN WHO AGREE WITH THE RULES.

It reminds me of all the heartache caused throu the centuries by condemning babies born out of wedlock. the unmarried sex act is a human act thus a sin but the conception is done only by God so it cannot be a sin. yet, for centuries, MEN taught that they were sinful children.

It is all a moot point at judgement day. God looks on the heart. I wonder what He sees in Joel Gregory. A contrite heart that publically repented of his sin of adultry? NO his sin is covered by the blood of Jesus. The Bible says "I will remember their sins no more forever."

I wonder what He will see on those who destroyed Mrs Klouda?

Well, there has been no public repentence of that sin. I'm thinkin' Christ will have something to say about that.

Fearing Only God

Michael said...


I agree with most of your post regarding other sins, etc.

However, you're incorrect regarding divorce. The word translated, "divorce," in both the Hebrew and Greek means sent away or send. It doesn't mean sent away, "without a document." If they did send their wives away without a certificate, according to Moses' instruction, then they were only adding to the sin of sending them away.

So, translated correctly, it's not, "I hate the sending away without a document," it's, "I hate the sending away."

I noticed you did not answer any of the points I brought up like:

1. Paying your vows to God and keeping covenant.
2. Instruction to those who raped a virgin that they never send her away.
3. Jesus saying Moses allowed a certificate of divorce, but from the beginning it was not that way, meaning it was God's intent that they remain in covenant, not sending her away.
4. Whether there is somewhere in God's word that gives you an indication that you can divorce, in order for you to send a wife away in faith.

Again, I'll answer your question simply...Yes, it's a sin to divorce, send away, break covenant, with or without a document of dismissal. And those in the body of Christ need to repent from it.

And again, the fact that God does not include the word, "sin," in the same sentence as divorce doesn't mean it's not a sin. We all know it's God's intention for us not to send away or dismiss our wives with or without a certificate.

The husband and wife are one flesh. Most sensible people understand that one doesn't separate himself with his own flesh and damage to oneself would be sinful.

Okay, you've asked the question, now you answer it. Do you believe that sending your wife away or dismissing her, even with a certificate,is a sin or not a sin?

And, have you ever sent a wife away or dismissed her, or divorced a wife, whatever you want to call it?

Anonymous said...

I don't know why we are discussing this in the first place. Joel did what he did and plenty of people know about it--but the Lord is still in the forgiveness business.

The worst aspect of this blog are those who would try to sully the reputation of Dr. Criswell because of something that Joel did.

Talk about cheap shots. (And shots without any proof or credibility.)

Darrell said...

Ok you didn't answer mine and yours don't make sense to me as you have not done anything different than run old and new together and ignore grace and forgiveness. of course, that was the point of wades post to begin with. enough

God Bless Joel and his gracious, forgiven life and ministry

movin on

ps. since God ordered a prophet to go around naked for 3 years, is it ok if todays prophets do it ? thought I would ask since "we do find it in the Bible" I don't find the end of prophets ordered "in the Bible" so I am taking it for granted that we still exist.

Darrell said...

abd thank the Lord Jesus Christ for W.A. Criswell!

Lydia said...


Check out David Instone Brewer, a Hebrew Scholar at Tyndale House, for understanding of divorce From the OT to the NT.

He has a website and even youtube videos on translating the passages you mention. Interesting stuff.

Lydia said...

"ps. since God ordered a prophet to go around naked for 3 years, is it ok if todays prophets do it ? thought I would ask since "we do find it in the Bible" I don't find the end of prophets ordered "in the Bible" so I am taking it for granted that we still exist."

I had to chuckle since John the Baptist is the last Old Covenant prophet and he was 'almost' naked.

Michael said...


I'm not sure what I didn't answer of yours. Let me know and I'll answer it.

You probed and baited this thread to answer your question about whether or not divorce was sin, as though we were afraid of persecution. I answered your question very definitively.

I derived my answers from scripture, and you had no rebuttals for any of my points. I reposted some of the points I mentioned in my first post and you still had no rebuttals. I also asked you point blank whether or not YOU, yourself, would commit to either saying divorce is a sin or not. No response. Then I asked you whether or not you, yourself, had ever divorced. No response.

Your response is to accuse me of running old and new together, but you don't indicate how I did. You accuse me of ignoring grace and forgiveness, but give no indication of how I've done that.

Look, Darrell, if you want to have an HONEST discussion, let's go for it. If you're just interested in making absurd statements, and then won't defend them scripturally, and then make accusations against people who can, maybe you better find another place to post.

To understand that divorce is sin, doesn't mean that I don't forgive those who have divorced and love them, just the way they have forgiven me for my sins and love me. Regarding Gregory, of course he's forgiven and I expect that he's been restored and is a godly man.

Regarding your statements about prophets, if God ordered me to walk around naked and I was sure it was God telling me to, then I had better do it. But, just because it's in the bible that a prophet walked around naked and some goofball thinks he's a prophet, doesn't mean he should walk around naked.

Finally, you said, "I don't find the end of prophets ordered, 'in the Bible,' so I am taking it for granted that WE still exist." You mean, "THEY," right? Or, are you proclaiming yourself as a prophet? It's not that I don't believe prophets exist today, because I do. I just don't think you're one.

Now, since I've given you ample opportunity to defend your question regarding whether or not divorce is a sin, and you've chosen to ignore the points and ignore my questions to you, not even committing to an answer to your own question, here's my accusation; anyone who thinks divorce is not a sin has a very warped sense of biblical truth and is, more likely than not, trying to justify his own sin or someone else's.

Darrell said...

thanks lydia. It was Isaiah 20:2-4 and I don't necessarily believe the thought that there are no Prophets around.

On another note not for Lydia,

their is always the verse about the arrogance of pharisees and a verse of fool and his folly. to claim something by using conjecture of scripture and then make a vicious stand for arguments of silence while the whole time being anonymous is laughable and then telling others not to post on possibly the godliest site on the web is truly fundalmentalist delusionism.

no more casting my pearls

God help us all

Anonymous said...


I get it. You don't have the backbone to answer your OWN question. Then you attack others for calling you on it. Wuss.

Anonymous said...

Gene S said . . .

Many interesting observations and some good light on the divorce issues as the Bible sees it--rather than pontificaters of the SBC.

Joel Gregory--even with his human failures--continues to be a person of rare insight and honesty with a gift of putting it in print to be clearly understood.

It would be wise for people to deal with their own humanity and learn humility.

Those who stick only with "book learning" and parsing Greek verbs usually don't look very closely or clearly at their own heart and soul.

"Speak the truth---in love" is my parting comment.

Michael said...

To Anonymous:

Those who look at the Greek, who study to show themselves approved, as the bible instructs, should not be assumed to be those who ONLY stick to book learning.

And, we should speak the truth in love. But we should also be like Jesus who called snakes, snakes and hypocrites, hypocrites. So, I'm calling a guy who doesn't have the backbone to answer his very own question a wuss, because he is one.

Darrell said...

I know I shouldn't...but....

Michael, I truly pity you.

Ok, here is my bio...

275 lbs
former biker trash
former bar bouncer...3 years
former professinal fighter...8years
former bodyguard...8 years








BUT A WUSS??? :-) (maybe we should have coffee together and bring a Bible, I will introduce you to some of my friends.)

strong only in Jesus


Michael said...


No pity needed. Life is good.

I'm glad you're saved. I'm glad you have all the attributes of someone who could kick my butt, physically. Congratulations on your God-given strength. And it sounds like you're not a wuss, physically, that is.

However, YOU posted the question, asking if divorce was a sin. YOU prodded people to give an answer, implying that they were afraid to answer the question. I gave the answer, presenting what I consider a biblical response.

And what is your response? Criticism; not of my points, but a presumption of my character.

I gave you at least two opportunities to deal with the points I brought up. You didn't. I asked you for your own answer to your own question. You wouldn't answer.

How can iron sharpen iron if you won't even let others know what you believe? I believe we should be able to sit down with coffee and a bible, or in front of a computer, and have an honest discussion about a topic and not have to criticize someone's character or be mad at them. Having said that, I'm sorry I called you a wuss.

I would be frustrated at anyone who would bring up an issue, criticize someone's character because of their answer, but be unwilling to even let others know what their stance is, much less back it up. At least I was man enough to do that. Are you?

I'll ask it one last time, your own question...Do you think divorce is a sin? Yes or no.

Gene S said...

Now, gentlemen, be nice!!!

Derrell, I like your direct take. You appear to be the "real deal."

Quite frankly, I'm tired of the sweety-teetsy folks who are mean as a snake beneath the surface.

I'll be glad to let you use my total destruction stump cutter to get out you frustrations with pretentious people.

I have me more than I want in this blog. God deliver me frome the super righteous pretenders!!!

Darrell said...

Gene, ya make me laugh. I WAS being nice! I was misquoted and let it slide then called names. I offered to buy coffee, bring a Bible and talk about my friends in that Bible.

Now, I have said enough about all that. By the way, I recently attended a baptism in a river. It was January and snow everywhere. It was very cold but as the greatest Christian I have ever known (gave his ordination papers back to the local religious club)...anyway, as he prayed and walked into the water, it got warm enough to steam. Oh, there were 30 or so people there. Every one of them farmers and their wives! Yeah, I know a prophet or 2. That man has been preaching Jesus all over the world in dozens of countries and jungles and never taken a dime. God told him in the 70's not to ever accept money to preach/minister. supports himselfdoing whatever he has to . raised 3 kids. common as a dirt clod. has memorized most of the Bible. GOOD IS GOOD!


Darrell said...

by the way GENE, I love wades blog and learn a lot here and have made many friends here. I even learn from those that I might not totally agree with.

"I am continually amazed how many people live their life as if there is no God to answer to"

Tryin to please only God

Anonymous said...

Do any of you actually have a relationship with Joel Gregory? If you do, do you seek to pray for him, help him with his troubles, bring these troublesome behaviors to his attention and ask if he has followed the instructions of Matthew 5:23-24

23"Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.

Joel has yet to show care or concern toward either of the two wives he's divorced. I know both of them. I have not met the third one. These women still need your prayers. Neither has he spoken to his sister, his mother's caretaker, after he put her and her children out, impoverished and ill, taking their home for a self-agrandizing agenda. All of these affected people have had the difficult task of attempting forgiveness of one who has not sought their forgiveness.

Each lawsuit filed or threatened against these women by Gregory involved lies and slander, threats and heavy-handedness.

Before the Black churches were the Episcopal churches. They found out about his lack of judgment and repentance and refused to further his pursuit of the ministry using their church as his vehicle.

What is written above is all true. I hope that you, Brother Wade, will allow these words to be printed. You may question any of these parties and they may feel free to speak to you. They all live in Fort Worth. I know that he threatened St. Andrew's and the Episcopal diocese with lawsuit if they spoke of his involvement and departure from their churches. I found this out as I was seeking mediation on behalf of his second wife while they were married and members there.

The spirit of Yom Kippur and the most holy days in Jesus lifetime have been put to the side, in order for sideline comments to be entertained by those of you who enjoy the gossip. I have spoken of these prominent elements of Gregory's life to urge your active participation in God's word.

Get involved, help the healing. Grace from God does not magically occur by an iconic preacher invoking it and others believing he has straightened out his life without actively seeking to assist. Our God is a God of grace, yes; but not without a humble and repentant soul to deal with.

Seeking forgiveness is called for. Assist this man. Do you have the strength of character God gave you to help this gifted, but misguided instrument of God?

I beseech you for I have tried and failed. You may be the very one that God is relying on to help Gregory set his life on the path of true grace.

Gene Scarborough said...


Anyone making such allegations is neither praying nor caring--especially when you do not have the guts to attach your name!!!

A string of important comment relative to W.A. Criswell and Joel Gregory's observations was deleted.

This stuff needs to go as well--in my opinion!