Many Churches Teach a Roman Catholic View of Pastoral Authority

Mat 7:15-16 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. (16) You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?

In this passage, the Lord Jesus was exposing the hypocrites. Specifically, the hypocrites who were the “clergy” of the day. Scribes. Pharisees. That crowd.

Are we to understand that Jesus would have us submit to the authority of false prophets? Of course not. He is teaching the very opposite here. Even when He said:

Mat 23:1-3 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, (2) “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, (3) so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice.

…He cannot mean that we are to submit to the evil commands and teachings of false shepherds. Yes, do what they “say” because what they “said” was the Law of Moses which they read. But as to the application of that Law? Nope. They preach but they do not practice. Don’t do as they do.

And yet very commonly in today’s churches we are being told by pastors and other teachers that we must obey them. Without qualification being added in their teaching. Let me show you their favorite verse to pervert:

Heb 13:17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.

What I mean “without qualification” is that they commonly emphasize the “obey and submit” part of this text while ignoring the qualifier – “for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account.” In other words, TRUE pastors of Christ’s flock are genuine. They are not false shepherds. They really do watch over our souls and they do so with the constant awareness that the Chief Shepherd is the one who has appointed them and therefore to Whom they must give an accounting.

False shepherds do not watch over our souls. No. They devour the sheep. They use the flock for their own glory and gain. We are not to obey and submit to such men, but rather we are to expose them and put them out of the church.

Now, as you probably know, Rome teaches that no matter how corrupt a pope or priest might be, their office as dispenser of sacraments and so on is still genuine. The pope is the pope. The priest is the priest. So really, in the end, it’s all good.

And this is the same kind of thing I think that we see in Protestant churches so often. He is the pastor. Submit to him. They are the elders. Obey them. But the necessary qualifier is ignored – IF they are true shepherds. IF they are truly watching over the souls of the flock.

When an oppressed and downtrodden person comes to their pastor or other church leaders for help and is told, essentially, “suck it up and trust God,” then that so-called shepherd is not speaking for Christ. He is not watching out for and caring for the soul of the poor widow or abuse victim or the target of the sexual predator. He is giving false counsel and at least in that realm is a false shepherd.

I think that one of the most common ways to identify a false shepherd is by holding them up to this standard:

1Pe 5:1-3 So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: (2) shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; (3) not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.

False shepherds always, always, always “lord it over” the people. Oh they may put on some pretty convincing shows of “humility” at times, acting the “nice, kind” role and “washing the saints feet” while having trumpets blown, but in reality, when the mask is off, they are bullies. False shepherds are always bullies. Watch for it and you will see the bully make an appearance when the guise goes down in unguarded moments.

The Lord is in the business of taking bullies down. Stop fearing them. Pick up your sling and let fly at Goliath. But do not think that the Lord requires you to obey and submit to such an evil. He does not.

 

Covering Up the Evils of the Wicked is Forbidden by the Lord

Deu 13:8 you shall not yield to him or listen to him, nor shall your eye pity him, nor shall you spare him, nor shall you conceal him.

I wanted to talk some more in this post about this remarkable passage of Scripture found here in Deuteronomy 13.

We know that “cover up” is all around us. We see it in the news constantly.

  • The Roman Catholics cover up for pedophile priests
  • Protestant leaders cover up for pedophiles and abusive church leaders
  • The crimes of celebrity figures are covered up

Cover up. Pull the covers over the thing. Get it out of sight. Conceal the crime.

Now, in the setting of Deuteronomy 13, the Lord (through Moses) is commanding the Israelites on how they are required to respond when someone tries to lead them into idolatry. Never mind if the transgressor is:

your brother, the son of your mother, or your son or your daughter or the wife you embrace or your friend who is as your own soul…

…their evil is not to be concealed. There it is. Cover up. Covering up evil, hiding the wickedness of the lawbreaker is forbidden by the Lord.

We have seen a clear example of this concealing in the recent case of Tom Chantry whose trial for assault and sexual molestation of children just came to a conclusion (for now at least. He is going to be tried again on several charges). In the course of this trial, the leaders of ARBCA were revealed as concealers of Chantry’s evil. They covered for him. For many years.

Co-dependent relationships are still another example of cover up. A parent excuses, rescues, hides, protects a wicked child from the consequences of their wickedness. Local churches refuse to expose an evil-doer among them (as in 1 Corinthians 5), covering up the guilty entirely or minimizing the crime.

Why? Why the cover up? You can understand a wicked person concealing his/her own crime in order to escape punishment. But why do other people cover for the wicked? Refuse to call the police. Tell the victim to never speak of such things again. Twist and pervert the idea of “forgiveness” and thereby announce “it’s all been taken care of,” and then behaving as if the crime never happened. You know how this goes.

The Lord gives us some explanations, including this one:

“nor shall your eye pity him”

Misguided pity. Feeling sorry for the wicked. Yielding to his “crocodile tears” and feigned repentance. So his evil is covered up. Poor fellow. He said he is sorry you know. A sociopath/narcissist loves this stuff. He goes away laughing at those fools who let him off the hook. They yielded to him. They pitied him. They disobeyed God’s command!

And I think that there is another reason for the cover up. Look at this last verse in the account of Ananias and Sapphira in the early church:

Act 5:11 And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things.

The fear of the Lord is a necessary mark of the genuine Christian. We fear Him with reverential awe. We know that our God is a consuming fire who is not mocked. Ananias and his wife did not fear the Lord. But the Lord exposed their secret sin. The cover up was short-lived and the result was that all greatly feared the Holy One of Israel. It turns out that He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. The New Covenant in Christ had not changed God’s holiness.

Counterfeit Christians do not like a God who is to be feared. And so they introduce grace on steroids. Mercy. Love. Forgiveness. No need to fear. That is the thing they want. A “church” where you can sin without repentance, habitually,  and still have your on the way to heaven ticked punched.

And so, the cover up. Churches that cover for the wicked are not churches at all. They are gatherings of whitewashed tombs who cover up their own evil by covering up the evil of others. They persecute those who truly do hunger and thirst for righteousness and cast them out.

Christ’s command to us has not changed:

Eph 5:11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.

 

 

Why is Our Default Tendency to Focus on “Fixing” the Evil Person Rather than Helping His Victim?

Deu 13:6-10 “If your brother, the son of your mother, or your son or your daughter or the wife you embrace or your friend who is as your own soul entices you secretly, saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods,’ which neither you nor your fathers have known, (7) some of the gods of the peoples who are around you, whether near you or far off from you, from the one end of the earth to the other, (8) you shall not yield to him or listen to him, nor shall your eye pity him, nor shall you spare him, nor shall you conceal him. (9) But you shall kill him. Your hand shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people. (10) You shall stone him to death with stones, because he sought to draw you away from the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

If you have experienced being the target of a wicked person – a domestic abuser, sexual abuser, sociopath, narcissist, etc. – or if you have followed the stories of abuse victims then you know what I am about to say here is absolutely true. Here it is:

When a case of abuse is exposed, there may initially be some short-lived empathy for the victim, but quite soon the focus of most people familiar with the case will shift. It will shift from the victim to the abuser. It is the evil one who is pitied, counseled, prayed for, and even comforted. And when the victim refuses to enter into that new focus, she is made into the culprit who is standing in the way of the poor abuser being restored.

It’s true. You have seen it over and over and so have I. A great rotation occurs so that north becomes south and south becomes north.

Now, consider what the Lord says in the verses quoted above. Take careful note of what he tells us NOT to do in regard to the evil person:

  • Do not yield to him
  • Do not listen to him
  • Do not pity him
  • Do not spare him
  • And do not protect and conceal him

The Israelites, under the Old Covenant, were in fact commanded to put such a person to death. And EVERYONE was to be in full participation in doing so.

We do not live in that Old Covenant theocracy, and therefore we leave the execution of punishment to the civil authorities God has ordained. Nevertheless, the Lord’s commands to the Jews are also commands to us. Do not listen to him, pity him, spare him, or conceal him. Yet this is exactly what most all people do when evil comes among them and is exposed. And this error (this disobedience of the Lord) is especially common among professing Christians.

“Let’s get him some counseling. Let’s forgive him. Let’s listen to his story of how he was so abused himself as a kid. Let’s not report his evil to the police. Let’s permit him to keep being a congregant in the church.” And on and on it goes.

This is rank rebellion against God’s clear commandments.

Why, we ask, is the lay of the land in such cases sloped toward pity for the abuser? Why is that the direction most everyone drifts toward? Let me suggest that this happens because it is the easy road to travel. Furthermore, helping the guilty one is a way to gain personal acclaim – “just look at how loving and gracious those people are in forbearing with that fellow.” The Apostle Paul rebuked the Corinthians for doing this very thing (see 1 Cor 5).

I saw this very thing happen in our own church a decade ago when an evil wickedness occurred among us. Initially all eyes of pity were on the victim and the victim’s family. But that was quite short lived. Soon the empathy and energy swung over to the perpetrator. Far, far more energy was expended for him than for the victim. And ultimately in fact people left our church in a huff when, in their opinion, we did not show enough “mercy” to the guilty one.

Standing with a victim is far more costly than to conceal and protect and stand with the perpetrator. And I suppose that this is the fundamental reason that it is the perp who gets the pity party rather than the victim.

So, if your eye is on the abuser or the liar/deceiver or the sociopath or molester, it is way past time for you to get your eye off of him and turn your gaze upon his victim. Your eye shall not pity him. THAT is God’s true Word which we are to obey.