Friday, April 2, 2010
I am a believer in God's sovereignty. I'm not sure where I stand now, as I am confused theologically, but when I was a pastor, I was a strong five-point Calvinist.
After my fall, I had lunch with another Calvinist who told me that our every movement, our every word is preordained by God. However, like a good Calvinist, he also held that all of us are depraved and responsible for our misdeeds.
Agreed. I am responsible for my sin. But since my fall from the lofty height of the pulpit, I must admit that my theology has suffered. Theology has become practical. Some of it can be discarded, I think. Because some of it is extremely impractical.
Here's where the rubber meets the road for me: I violated the seventh commandment. It was my fault, all the way. But if I'm a good Calvinist, a good sovereigntist, I believe that God had it in His plan from the beginning to glorify Him for His glory. I have suffered great pain and horror in my fall because of it.
My fall, my sin, my fault. But His glory, His plan.
I don't really matter. I'm just a former Virginia Southern Baptist pastor.
How about David? Would he have ever been the leader God wanted if he had not sinned with Bathsheba?
Never mind that for a moment, Christians. We call what he did "adultery." Really? Really?
The man had 8 wives. And several concubines. And it was adultery? Come on. How does that fit into God's sovereign plan.
You see, being a seminary trained individual, I know the answer. David's actions were not prescribed. God "frowned" on David's polygamy. The Bible doesn't "prescribe" David's actions, it merely "describes" David's actions.
But we call David's actions, "adultery".8 + 1 .
We stand in the pulpit when we preach about David's horror and we talk about morality and sin. You know who we never think of? Bathsheba. What did David do after his sin? He took Bathsheba for his own. He married her. He loved her as his own. He made her his wife.
How many sermons have you ever heard on Bathsheba?
Few ever consider that there was a real woman involved with real feelings. When stories break of unfaithful pastors, what do you ever hear of the woman they were involved with?
Bathsheba was the mother of Solomon. How do you think Solomon felt about his mother? How do you feel about your mother?
Better yet, what was God's sovereign plan for Solomon to come into this world? It was through Bathsheba.
I'm not saying that God condones adultery. He doesn't. He hates it. But you'd better know that He has a plan for all things since before time began. And we are not the judge of all things - He is.
Post edited 2/11/11 - thanks to a heads up from a Twitter friend . . .
Thursday, April 1, 2010
There's some interesting stories. Like this Christianity Today article where one church's struggle with an adulterous pastor is mentioned. However, it deals with how a church is supposed to handle the consequences. It really paints the fallen pastor as someone who gets left by the wayside. I suppose that's fine since it's about how the church needs to move on.
Interestingly, it does note how unwilling some churches are to forgive pastors who have fallen. One church was still lashing out at a former pastor 25 years after the fact by taking it out on every pastor who had been called since. Ouch.
Then, one of my former heroes, John MacArthur (more about that later), has this article about whether fallen pastors should be restored to the pastorate. That's a blog for later. I appreciate MacArthur's strong biblical stand on his issues. He gives this interesting insight:
Where did we get the idea that a year’s leave of absence and some counseling can restore integrity to someone who has squandered his reputation and destroyed people’s trust? Certainly not from the Bible. Trust forfeited is not so easily regained. Once purity is sacrificed, the ability to lead by example is lost forever. As my friend Chuck Swindoll once commented when referring to this issue—it takes only one pin to burst a balloon.
There are a few ministries online apparently for fallen pastors. One that caught my eye had the heading, "Fallen Pastors." It's run out of Springfield, Missouri and had the following statistics on the front page:
· Fifteen hundred pastors leave the ministry each month due to moral failure, spiritual burnout, or contention in their churches.
· Fifty percent of pastors’ marriages will end in divorce.
· Eighty percent of pastors and eighty-four percent of their spouses feel unqualified and discouraged in their role as pastors.
· Fifty percent of pastors are so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way of making a living.
· Eighty percent of seminary and Bible school graduates who enter the ministry will leave the ministry within the first five years.
· Seventy percent of pastors constantly fight depression.· Almost forty percent polled said they have had an extra-marital affair since beginning their ministry.
I emailed them when I first fell, but never got a response. I tried again, but never heard a word. Good idea, but they might want to check their email.
I do want to mention an extraordinary blog post I read on the topic. It's from "The World From Our Window" a blog post titled, "What Shall We Do With the Fallen Pastor?"
There is some interesting information out there, but I would encourage anyone dealing with this issue personally to take time to remember that there are real people involved. That the pastor and his family are suffering. The person the pastor was involved with is suffering. The church members are suffering. All of them need love, forgiveness and attention.