Mat 13:37-39 He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. (38) The field is the world, and the good seed is the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, (39) and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels.
Last week I listened to a podcast by James White, a well-known Reformed Baptist apologist whose program is called The Dividing Line. He was addressing a statement by Southern Baptist leader Russell Moore who was responding to the Houston Chronicle’s series on the hundreds of sexual abuse cases in SBC churches and how they have been covered up by SBC leaders.
White took Moore to task for saying that the Roman Catholic doctrines of the priesthood are not the cause of the hundreds of pedophilia crimes perpetrated by RC priests. After insisting on just the opposite conclusion, ie, that RC clerical pedophilia is indeed caused by the false doctrine of the priest being “another Christ,” White pointed to another cause of sexual abuse by church leaders in the SBC – bad ecclesiology (ie, the doctrine of the church).
White said that among Southern Baptists, just about anyone who claims to be called to the pastoral ministry is assumed to in fact have that calling from the Lord and no one is to question it. I assume then that what White means is that this is a broad path by which the wicked can creep into local churches, even as pastors. White then emphasized the need for a biblical ecclesiology – namely, local churches being led by multiple elders who are biblically qualified and who have been installed in their offices according to biblical procedures. He did not overtly say so, but I hear him saying that the sins of the “sheep” need to be kept in check, and therefore biblically qualified elders must be in place in a local church to ensure that the flock’s sin does not break out among them.
Now, I also believe that the biblical pattern for church leadership is that of multiple elders who are qualified for that office according to Scripture. I believe as well that Rome’s false doctrine of the priesthood absolutely contributes to pedophiles hiding in the churches. And I too agree that many, many people who claim to be called by the Lord to be a pastor have not heard the Lord’s calling at all. However…
As I listened to White, I could not help but conclude that he is missing the real point. Because, after all, we know of myriads of cases of evil perpetrated by church leaders who are in churches with what White would call a “biblical ecclesiology.” Doctrinally I myself align with Reformed Baptists and their historic confession of faith and yet the condition of so many Reformed Baptist churches today is one that very often permits abuse of all sorts to thrive under cover. Take the infamous and present case of “The Reverend” Tom Chantry for instance (which originated in White’s own state of Arizona).
So then, just how does evil creep in among the flock in the local church and even end up filling the office of pastor or elder? What is it that was absent from at least this particular broadcast of James White? I think it is this:
You Must be Born Again
Is it not interesting that the very first thing Jesus zero’d in on when a Pharisee, a leader of the “church,” came to Him one night was this very thing…you must be born again? We too often just brush this off with a “Oh yes, to be saved you have to believe in Jesus so He gives you a new heart and forgives you of your sin. Now let’s move on.” But Jesus’ words are fundamental, foundational, and profound. Listen to His Word again in different terms but with the very same truth:
Joh 3:6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
And again by the Apostle Paul:
1Co 2:12-14 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. (13) And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. (14) The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.
And this is the point at which the visible church in this present world goes wrong so often. Church pews are filled with people who are not regenerate, who are devoid of the Spirit of God. Pulpits are filled with men who do not know the Lord even though they may even have their doctrinal “I’s” dotted and “T’s” crossed. They have been sown among us by the devil himself.
These kind of people always look to law of some kind to regulate the people of God, and that very law is the power of sin. They know nothing of the new birth of the inner man even though they may issue the traditional altar call each Sunday. They are flesh and all that they produce is flesh.
And this is at the heart of what is happening in local churches today. This is the source of the evil. Unconverted leaders, unconverted members who have been assured that they are saved….no matter what. “We are all sinners” they are told and thus their habitual walking in sin and their love for it is excused. Why, even if a member or pastor turns out to be a pedophile who has been horridly abusing children under cover of “saintliness,” he is embraced, his sin is largely excused, his victims are pushed aside, and “the Lord is praised” for His “mercy and kindness and love and forgiveness.” And woe to anyone who questions the reality of any of it.
Why are the churches filled today with abusers – sexual, domestic, and spiritual? Why are the lives of “christians” who fill the pews each Sunday so remarkably like those of the pagan world (or worse)? The answer is obvious – they are not born again. They do not know the Lord and He does not know them. They are the “many” who the Lord spoke of:
Mat 7:21-23 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. (22) On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ (23) And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
6 thoughts on “The Real Source of Evil Hiding in Local Churches”
Amen! The essential yet simple truth of the whole matter! May the Church be shaken out of its stupor and deception to realize the importance of this.
Cathleen- it really is the whole matter isn’t it? You must be born again!
GETTING AWAY from the known evil of abuse and ALL its perpetrators and enablers is the only way to protect oneself. Let God do with them what His Word says He will do. Cast them AWAY from Himself and spew them out of His mouth and into the fiery pit where they belong.
I’ll take belonging to this “Virtual CRC Church” over communing with wolves in sheep’s clothing any day! And I thank the true Spirit of God for leading me here.
(Editors’ note: comment edited for safety)
I remember this I mentioned last week when I first read of this filthy sick perversion in the SBC. These people need to be born again! It is just that simple. No human who has the holy spirit living in their heart could commit something like that no more than I could rob a liquor store at gunpoint. I shudder to even think of such a thing! These folks are NOT a new creation in Christ. There are so many that believe to just make a head knowledge for Christ will get them saved and on their way to heaven. No offense to anyone here, my experience down south (NC) with baptist church’s were steeped in legalism. I am very sad that the unsaved hear of these horrible things in what is suppose to be a church truly representing our Lord and Savior, and say “see, these Christians are no different then us” and walk away. No wonder the Lord says that the flesh can not please Him.
I know scripture speaks of testing ourselves to see if we are indeed of the faith. What exactly does this mean and how does one go about it? Its certainly not a popular idea to suggest that anyone who has prayed a sinner’s prayer or come up to an altar call is not now saved, especially when some scalp collecting pastor or would be evangelist has just pronounced one so. Yet it is necessary. I’d hate to find out I was actually mistaken that I knew Jesus when it is too late to do anything about it.
KofA – Good questions and important ones. We must first understand what Christ’s salvation really is. Most think it is just forgiveness of sins, but deeper than that, when Christ saves us His Spirit regenerates our hearts and we become new creations. The real Christian is this:
Heb 8:8-13 For he finds fault with them when he says: “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, (9) not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt. For they did not continue in my covenant, and so I showed no concern for them, declares the Lord. (10) For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. (11) And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. (12) For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.” (13) In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.
That is to say, everyone, every Christian, has this new heart, has a love for the Lord and His Law, knows the Lord, and does not need to be constantly prodded to obey the Lord. Anyone who is not of this nature is simply not a Christian.
You also see in Romans 8 that every Christian is led by the Spirit. If you look at that chapter and also for instance at Galatians 5:16ff, you will see that the mark of every real Christian is this working of the Spirit in us by which we put to death sin (deeds of the flesh) and produce the fruit of the Spirit. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness…and so on. We must examine ourselves to see what the defining habitual pattern of our lives is. The Spirit or the flesh? A Christian in this life is not perfect – we still are in fallen flesh. But that flesh no longer defines who we are. Christ does and he is in us, forming Himself in us.
You can also look at 1 John and take note of the many “either” “or” statements there. If someone says they love God but hate their brother, they are a liar. If someone says they know God but walk in habitual unrighteousness, they are a liar.
These are the tests then. This nonsense that is so widespread in churches that says “we are all sinners” and thereby excuses ongoing habitual sin in a professing Christian, insisting that such a person is still a Christian, is a lie. If you are in Christ and thus have been born again, you are not a sinner by nature any longer. You love the Lord. You love His Word. You love His people. You increasingly hate sin.
This is all why I absolutely maintain that the domestic abuser who claims to be a Christian – isn’t. The thing is impossible. In Christ we walk in the light, not in darkness.