Guest Post about “Fallen Christian Leaders”

Guest Post about “Fallen Christian Leaders” September 9, 2015

What follows here is a guest post written by my colleague Joel Gregory. I do not know to whom he is specifically referring and it doesn’t matter. At least once every year we hear or read about a religious (usually Christian) pastor or leader who experiences moral failure. Joel is one of the best preachers I have ever heard–as well as a delightful raconteur and good friend. He pastored First Baptist Church of Dallas following W. A. Criswell’s “retirement.” He teaches homiletics at Baylor’s Truett Seminary. I whole heartedly affirm the sentiment he expresses in this guest post. I could not have said it better or nearly as well!

The Recent Fall of the Young Pastor – Be Careful with the Anointed

“How was it you were not afraid to put forth your hand to destroy the LORD’s anointed” (1 Samuel 1:14)

Facebook has lit up with the fall of a prominent young pastor descended from the blue bloods of American evangelicals, the royal family of ministers.  It made me think of a scene from the strange relationship between David and Saul.  Strange and strained.

Evidently there was an Amalekite Dr. Kevorkian.  He helped King Saul commit suicide.  Thinking he had done a good thing, this Kevorkian want-to-be ran to tell David.  When David heard, he was incensed.  He executed the Amalekite who had incriminated himself.  The pagan did not take the 5th Amendment nor was he read his Miranda rights.  He was proud he killed King Saul and thought David would give him a bonus.  Instead David executed the Amalekite Dr. K. on the spot.  We might want to reflect on that.

David respected the anointing of God on King Saul.  Saul was anointed privately and publicly, more than once by Samuel.  There was no question that Saul had been anointed.  Saul betrayed that anointing but David knew the anointment clung to Saul.  That contradiction is not strange.  Samson had the anointing and left it in Delilah’s barbershop.  David had the anointing and left it in the bedroom where he enjoyed an hour with Bathsheba but destroyed years of his life.  So also Saul.  He left it somewhere, maybe in the cave of the spiritualist witch at Endor when she conjured up Samuel.

Yet, even still, David respected the anointing of God on Saul, flaws and all.

Back to the current public fall of a prominent young minister from America’s first family of evangelicals.  He committed adultery, by his own confession.  His wife did, too.  His local assembly and national Church has canned him.  He rather suddenly got a job as a ministry   coordinator at another a church, a sort of lay job.  Other ministers piled on with all sorts of remonstrance and desire to protect the Church from an unrepentant adulterer.  The pundits have lit up the web.

I do not know the man’s heart.  He may well be unrepentant and incorrigible.  Or, he may have broken down before God and been restored.  I do not now and you do not either.  But   we might learn something from David’s reaction about the fall of Saul.

David did not rejoice in it, even though Saul had tried to take David out.  Saul invented the term “love-hate relationship.”  He liked to hear David’s harp solos but hated David’s prowess as a warrior.  Through all of that David respected the anointing of God on Saul.  David could have had professional jealousy. David could have enjoyed that German feeling schadenfreude.  David had no joy in the fall of Saul.  In fact he tore up his wardrobe and so did everyone around him, probably when they saw David let it rip.  He did not rejoice in the fall of Saul and influenced others around him to can their jokes as well.

If you secretly rejoice over the fall of an anointed minister you might wish to check your heart.  Glee where there should be gloom is not a good thing.  David executed the messenger who felt good about that message.  Those were crude and cruel days and human flesh was cheap.  Iron   Age Israelites were not county club material.  Today folks are kinder and gentler.  They kill them on Facebook, not with a sword.

What did David do when he heard of the fall of Saul?  A couple of things.

He did not call CNN or put it on Facebook:  “Tell it not in Gath” (2 Samuel 1:20).  Gath was the hotbed of Saul’s enemies and the enemies of God’s people.  David did not want the Philistines smirking at the gym or joking at the club over the death of God’s anointed.  David wanted to keep the fall of Saul as quiet as possible.  He channeled Peter:  “Love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).  Professed Christians who enjoy washing the churches dirty linen at the pagan public laundromat have no biblical support.  Deal with it in the church, not on Facebook.

Then David rejoiced in the best things about Saul’s life.  He composed a new song (1 Samuel 1:19-27).  It did not top   the charts but God heard and it helped David and Israel.  He rejoiced in Saul’s strength and swiftness and largesse.  That is, he said everything good he could about Saul.  One of the hard things for fallen ministers to endure is the cancellation of their entire life and work by most of those they served.  They are turned into non-persons overnight.  Callous church critics read backwards into the lives of the fallen the worst moment of their ruined lives and stick it to them.  They push rewind and erase the entire life of the fallen.  One wonders if such critics would affirm having that done to them.  Probably not.  Most of them would likely rather be judged by their better moments.

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