Another Scandal In The Church For The World To Find Hypocrisy In

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.

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10 Responses to Another Scandal In The Church For The World To Find Hypocrisy In

  1. Lady Jaye says:

    I have to agree with you on most of your points. TV evangalists have always appeared to me as very fake and I think it really damages the reputation of the church.

    While reading Michael Vick’s comments, I tried not to be distracted by all the “you know”s and while I realize it was probably written by his publicist or agent I found myself actually wanting to believe him a little bit. What is that?

  2. plwalker says:

    I too hope Michael Vick has learned a lesson. I hope his comments are sincere and that he backs up what he has said. I’m not certain that his comments indicated that he recently found Jesus, or simply returned from a sinful life. I’m not sure. Either way, I hope he is sincere and makes a difference with his life now.

  3. I’m with you brother. The Haggard stuff is flying under the radar here in Colorado while his partner is becoming a media star. The White’s credibility is diminished among those looking into the situation from a distance but their intimate followers remain fiercly loyal. How are we equipping believers to be discerning? My heart breaks for Christ’s church.

  4. From the three stories, I simply think of my own journey. I cannot accuse any of them, since once I was such a sinner, and if you would know me, I’m still struggling with several issues. It is indeed a shameful pitty that those who call themselves “Christians” are obviously so far from Jesus. We have been warned though … not all who call Him “Lord, Lord” are actually part of the Kingdom. However, i would like to quote The Message’s paraphrase of Matthew 18:15-17

    “If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell him—work it out between the two of you. If he listens, you’ve made a friend. If he won’t listen, take one or two others along so that the presence of witnesses will keep things honest, and try again. If he still won’t listen, tell the church. If he won’t listen to the church, you’ll have to start over from scratch, confront him with the need for repentance, and offer again God’s forgiving love. ”

    All the three stories mentioned by Scott are painful, and a disgrace in terms of how the world perceives Christianity. The US President, for instance, calls himself a “born again Christian” and unfortunately, any association with him is disgraceful for Christians outside the US, and does not help in the advancement of the Gospel. Still, I believe that these stories are also part of the pruning of the Vine. Painful processes for Christians to remain steadily rooted in the Bible, and doing what Jesus did. I like the approach of The Message: and would ask Christians: should we offer again God’s frogiving love to those like the Whites, Haggard, Bush, or Vicks?

    Be blessed,

  5. Scott W. Kay says:

    Pastor Warren – That’s just it isn’t it? – a failure of the church to teach Biblical doctrine clearly enough and thoroughly enough to produce discerning people (or preachers). Pretty sad when the world is more discerning about the credibility of these preachers than their followers are. There’s a lesson in that.

    Mi Lucha Interior – I’m with you. They should be confronted by someone close to them and be graciously called to repentance and forgiveness. If they are really children of God, they’ll recognize their sin, even though the church may have to go to them 3 or 4 times. But if they persist in their sin, then we can only treat them as unbelievers at that point, since they are exhibiting the fruit of unbelievers, namely, being unconvicted and unrepentant of their sin. I pray that they’ll see the disgrace they are brining publicly to Christ and that it will break their hearts. It does mine.

  6. Scott, how many times should we forgive? What’s the meaning of 70 times 70? … just wondering. You see, i’ve witnessed Christians being publicly disciplined during my early Christian years. Most of them were so due to sexual impurity. Just remember one specific case of one of the guys of my youth group, who had sex with his girlfriend and made her pregnant. He had to confess in front of the Church in tears. I’ve not seen him back in the Church in any of my visits. That day, however, i vowed never to confess “there” my same-sex-attraction struggles, because if they were so rigid with something like that, they would have probably stoned me in front of the entrance. The problem is that we don’t have many role models, and we don’t have Christian models of dealing with sin or brokeness. It’s very easy to judge and condem people and leave them alone as easy preys for the enemy, than to fight together the battles.
    What do I do with pagans? Well, I preach the Gospel in all possible ways, and only if needed use words.
    Be blessed,

  7. Scott W. Kay says:

    refreshingfromheaven,

    Thanks for your comments. Scripture teaches that we are to continually forgive those who sin against us. Those who sin publicly are to be confronted privately, per Matt. 18, in order to exhort them to repentance – privately. This is to be done up to 3 times. The forgiveness is always extended in the hope that the repentance will be secured. This is not to be a sin-hunting expedition, nor an opportunity to shame sinning brothers and sisters. How it is done is very important. Gal. 6:1 says to go to those who sin in a spirit of meekness, not condescension, and not with the hope to crush them, but with a heart of love that is seeking their restoration.

    That is what needs to be done in the above mentioned scandals. Haggard has had overseers come over him to help him be restored, which is exactly what he needed – a loving group of spiritual shepherds to hold him accountable and nurture him back to spiritual health, but he keeps doing an end-run around them (click on the link in my previous post on him to take you to the story where his overseers express frustration with this).

    Paula and Randy White need someone in their lives to do the same. They need to be brought to repentance and restoration. To say so is not to say that we shouldn’t extend forgiveness quickly to them. The problem is that THEY do not express any sense of having done anything wrong to begin with. At least that hasn’t become evident publicly.

    Sadly, in the situation you mentioned, it goes to show how ungracious and slow-to-forgive Christians can too often be. I wasn’t there, and don’t know anything more than what you wrote, but I wonder if that young man was lovingly counseled toward restoration? From the fears you expressed, it sounds like that that church atmosphere didn’t possess such an loving attitude. It is such a tragedy that people who struggle with temptation (including SSA) feel more fear than freedom to get help from the very people who claim to possess the love of Christ. Oh, may we love like we’ve been loved!

    It sounds like Haggard’s overseers are trying to be that longed-for example of Christian models of dealing with sin and brokenness. I thank God for them. I hope Haggard will bring himself under them better than he has. You are absolutely right, this process of dealing with sin in the church should never ever be a judgmental, condemning act of leaving people alone to become easy preys for the enemy. Christians are called to come along side one another to strengthen one another against sin and the enemy, through loving exhortation and even accountability (which will sometimes require direct confrontation Matthew 18-style when needed). That is an act of love to help keep each other pure. And it should be done lovingly.

    What to do with pagans? Well, pagans will be pagans. As you say, they need the Gospel as badly as we do. May we live in such a holy way and treat each other in such loving ways that the life-transforming power of the Gospel is evident to them in us.

  8. Emma Steven says:

    I am a black charismatic believer and I’m deeply grieved by White’s divorce – biblical grounds are adultery and social grounds are domestic abuse or violence. I cannot understand why we dogmatically follow preachers instead of Jesus.

    I pray the Church in Africa and Asia where the gospel is spreading like wildfire with signs and wonders will be spared of this tragic trend. Normally the Baptists and other fundamentalists feel free to attack Charismatic and pentecostal believers on just about everything – this time i’m inclined to agree especially on the divorces occuring in the church while noting there are baptist (read evangelical) leaders caught in the fray of scandals as well.

    Either way, charismatic christians need to stand up and demand a return to biblical doctrine – just because the Church in Corinth exercised the gifts of the spirit while dealing with scandalous sin in their congregations does not mean we have to. I am seriously questioning the prosperity gospel – i won’t change my habit of tithing but every time a TV preacher asks me to give money to his/her ministry – I will give it to a local charity or my church (which at the time is not a charismatic one – i am a closeted tongue speaker:)

    Shame on us believers for not calling Christian leaders to task on the immorality of divorce, supporting the senseless killing of iraqi civilians, being cowards against standing up to a government that hijacks the name of God and being hypocritical in sending missionaries to foreign lands while minorities and poor whites suffer from Katrina. spinless preachers include pastors without guts to tell the truth to authorities.

    okay my rant is over and i’ll go back to being my sweet self – i’m actually pretty angry about the whites divorce – i feel owed an explanation and maybe that’s my mistake – i held them to a higher standard because they promised me double portion blessings for giving atonement offerings!!! okay, i really gotta go – drink some milk and sleep!

  9. Jahnie Caswell says:

    Firstly, I do not think that christians with any wisdom or discernment would take tv evangelists like Paula White seriously. This television program is merely for entertainment purposes ONLY. Yes, they have some good and uplifting things to say that can help us in our daily walk. I watch Paula White; I saw one of her shows one day I cannot recall what she was talking about but one of her on-stage props was a closet with some of her clothing in it. All of the items were from high-end department stores like neiman marcus and nordstroms, the real expensive stuff. This girl is definatly high maintence with the face, brow, botox-to-the-max, dental make-over. she is spending the big buck on herself, and don’t get me wrong, I love to do the same to, and she is on television and has to look her best, but… come on… who is she asking for money from? Usually the people that can least afford to give are the one’s footing the bill for this behavior. I think it stems from christians own need to have someone reassure them, and she does a lot of that, if, you sew that seed, which, you know is a commandment! Take a look at the sets that are used at TBN and others, it is befitting kings and queens the way they are decked out. Still, we somehow have the need for this kind of entertainment, it’s interesting… The show must go on!

  10. You made some good points…I’m curious to know what you would recommend in my situation. I suspect my fiancee may be having an affair, but I do not have evidence. It’s more of a gut feeling. Do you think I should see about hiring a private investigator? Or should I confront him with my suspicions?

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