Nov 5, 2006

Righteous Ruling

In the midst of the pain of this situation with Ted Haggard, I see great cause for rejoicing. It is rare that we see elders and pastors make swift and righteous rulings against an elder in sin. It is rarer still that we see an elder humbly acknowledge his need for removal from office and submit to proper church discipline. I rejoice today that there still are godly Christian leaders who are willing to hold even the top dogs accountable.

So what is wrong in the Reformed community? Aren't we the ones who preach orthopraxy as well as orthodoxy? Let's compare the situation with RC Sproul, Jr., for instance, with Ted Haggard. Now, granted, Ted's sin was decidedly more grave, yet they did both admit to at least some level of sin in their lives. I would have expected someone like Ted to take a temporary leave of absence, though, and attempt to come back to New Life. His church would have welcomed him with open arms (they understand cheap grace - not to be confused with God's grace). But he didn't; he is leaving permanently and fully acknowledges that he does not have the biblical right to be an elder any longer. So why does RC, Jr. think he has the right to sin, and then when defrocked, just go to another "denomination" and still continue at his same church where he was committing these sins to begin with? What's wrong with this picture?

Where are the Reformed leaders who are willing to hold other Reformed leaders, such as both Sprouls, accountable? "Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame."

7 comments:

Mark Epstein said...

Amen!

Five Pointer said...

It is truly to our Reformed shame that men such as the Sprouls continue to provide spiritual shepherding for any member of the church visible. When Arminian Congregationalists can get it "right" but the Reformed community can not, we really have to wonder where our leader's loyalties are residing.

Maggie said...

I would have expected someone like Ted to take a temporary leave of absence, though, and attempt to come back to New Life. His church would have welcomed him with open arms (they understand cheap grace - not to be confused with God's grace). But he didn't; he is leaving permanently and fully acknowledges that he does not have the biblical right to be an elder any longer. So why does RC, Jr. think he has the right to sin, and then when defrocked, just go to another "denomination" and still continue at his same church where he was committing these sins to begin with? What's wrong with this picture?


Wow. Perhaps what is wrong with this picture, is the fact that both men are human, and perhaps their responses have nothing to do with their theology, but more to do with their own personal character.

The Reformed do not always have all the answers, but they sure do have the pride. Not something God loves, in fact, of all the sins, pride is the one He hates the most.

Prov. 6:16-19, "There are six things which the Lord hates, yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: 17 Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, 18 A heart that devises wicked plans, feet that run rapidly to evil,19 A false witness who utters lies, and one who spreads strife among brothers." Pride, gossip and murder are seen as equal in God's eyes.

As far as the comment on Cheap Grace. Perhaps what you call cheap, is really God's Grace. Jesus himself says unless you become as children, you shall never enter Heaven. I take that to mean you don't have to have all the deep doctrinal theological answers. Surely children don't understand all that. They just believe Jesus is the Son of God. Perhaps we as adults need to remember this. Even those in Reformed circles can tend to follow men over God Himself.


Matthew 18
The Greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven
1At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?"
2He called a little child and had him stand among them. 3And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Jen said...

Maggie, I think pride is often a sin in Reformed circles, although it's not limited just to that theological mindset.

However, "cheap grace" would welcome Ted back with open arms to continue being their pastor, while refusing to follow the list of requirements for being an elder found in I Timothy and Titus:

Blameless, as a steward of God
Just
Holy
Husband of one wife
Temperate
Not quick-tempered
Not self-willed
Self-controlled
Sober-minded (did this fit anyway?)
Of good behavior
Hospitable
Lover of what is good
Able to teach (this seems to be the ONLY requirement nowadays)
Holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught
By sound doctrine, able to exhort and convict those who contradict
Not given to wine
Not violent
Not greedy for money
Gentle
Not quarrelsome
Not covetous
One who rules his own house well
Has his children in submission with all reverence
Faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination
Not a novice - to combat pride
Have a good testimony among those who are outside

Maggie said...

Jen, I agree, pride is found in all. However, I think responses of Haggard vs. Sproul seem to be more based on a their character, than their theology. I have moved all over the country, and been a part of many differing denominations. I have yet to find one that holds the key to 1 Timothy and Titus. Including the reformed churches I've attended. Of any, I think they should be held to the higher standard because of their focus on theology. In other words, they should know better, and practice what they preach.

Jen said...

Maggie, I agree, which is exactly why I have tried to hold the Sprouls accountable to this teaching as well.

In fact, in my area of the country, I have MANY friends who don't know where to go to church because they hold to these biblical standards and can't find a church that espouses them. Even though there are plenty of families to get together for a large congregation with similar beliefs, values, and convictions, each of the men hold so strongly to these teachings, they don't feel qualified themselves to be an elder, and so we have lots of godly Christians with no place to go to church.

Yes, Haggard and Sproul may be personality based, but we should all be biblically based.

And that's why I'm here!

Always Batya said...

YOu have to give him credit for stating he will not be back to that church. You also have to give him credit for submitting himself to other leaders like Hayford and Dobson/

As much as we may disagree with all of them on doctrine, they have approached this in a godly manner.

Whether these men will really hold him accountable is another question.

Think of the difference had Ligonier done the same within reformed circles? Instead many well known reformed bloggers are quoting Sproul and acting like nothing happened. They are literally helping them continue in sin. It is such a shame and disgrace for the reformed community. We really do look like hypocrites when we criticize the 'evangelicals'. (I realize Haggards sin was very serious but so is suing)