Boy, the news is just popping today with news of Jesus’ deep and profound impact on the lives of very public figures. Here’s three stories for you.
1.) For starters (no pun intended), Michael Vick has now “found Jesus.” This after pleading guilty to cruelty and conspiracy charges for dogfighting and dog killing, and after loosing millions of dollars of money for being suspended by the NFL. A “jailhouse” conversion (sans the jail time – so far)? One can only hope he is sincere. At least he’s asked for forgiveness, which is more than you can say for the next story.
2.) Health and wealth televangelists Randy and Paula White have found a way to get divorced and still keep on preaching to massive crowds that flock to their church services and other meetings. Paula (whose popularity far outstrips her husband’s) is leaving her husband and kids back in Tampa and setting up shop just outside of San Antonio, TX, where she is partnering with another pastor-and-son duo who, interestingly enough, have just both gotten divorces in February. Wow, there a whole lotta divorcin’ goin’ on out there in the charismatic church’s leadership.
Of course, not a hint of concern is expressed by them that they have disqualified themselves from pastoral ministry (all gender role questions about the office of pastor aside). They admit that there has been no infidelity. Well then, they do not have biblical grounds for divorce, and are therefore sinning by divorcing, and doing so very publicly and unrepentantly.
This is such a terrible witness for the life-transforming, marriage-solidifying power of God in the Gospel. As public Christian leaders, they are telling the world that obedience to Scripture is optional, and that the grace of God available to us to obey the commands to love each other and be faithfully united to one another in a covenant marriage for life, despite difficulties, is really not sufficient for things like that, it’s only sufficient for health and wealth. What a sad irony.
Paula said: “We don’t look like ministry material. We don’t act like ministry material. But we are fruitful because we have a heart towards God that is pure and hands that are clean.”
Is that supposed to be a convincing justification for her sin? No, this divorce renders them to no longer qualified as “ministry material.” Paul is very very clear in 1 Timothy 3 that those in pastoral leadership must have a blameless life – this action by the Whites disqualifies them. As far as being “fruitful” goes, they need to “bring forth fruits worthy of repentance.” Until that happens, the only fruit that they are going to produce is the fruit of Christ and His church being ridiculed and less able to impact the world. The world sees this for the hypocrisy that it is.
3.) Last but not least, disgraced pastor Ted Haggard is asking for cash from supporters to underwrite his bills while he goes back to college. Details here. He doesn’t seem to see how this is presumptuous or hypocritical.
What strikes me most is that it’s all just so shameless. They don’t seem to have a pang of conscience about these things. And, oh, the damage that TV preachers have brought on the advancement of the cause of Christ and the believability of the Christian message by the world. Swaggart, Bakker, Gorman, Grant, Popoff, Tilton, Lea, White…will it ever stop?
It all makes the Gospel less credible to unbelievers. No one is looking at this and glorifying the Father in heaven.