Another preacher fell from favor this week.
This particular pastor, incidentally, married a girl I had a crush on when I was ten years old. Poor girl, her quite famous Dad, who pastored the same church prior to his son-in-law, was also unfaithful to her mother, and her brother, tragically, followed suit as a serial adulterer. The church, which I attended as a boy, is well-known as a Mecca of sorts for some circles of fundamentalism. It is also infamous for its long history of pedophilia, incest, adulteries, rape and molestation among its leaders, though not always its senior pastors.
I find myself crying inside even while I’ve been separated from this assembly for decades.
This recent offender is quoted as saying, “it’ll be a cold day in hell before I get my theology from a woman.” Among the eccentricities of his own “feminine-free” aberrant theology comes his teaching that God hates the world and so His Son asked the Father if He could come to earth and straighten it out.
Later, when the Son returned to the Father, the Father asked His Son how it went (?!?). The Son said “not too well” and proceeded to tell His Father that He was hated, despised, rejected and crucified. “I hate the world too, Father, and want you to send them all to hell.” The world’s only hope, according to the now-fallen but theologically and gender-sound pastor is that the Father and Son have made contracts with saved men who can tell the world the “good news” that God and Jesus hate them but have offered a way to escape hell by asking Jesus into their hearts.
I contend that bad theology insidiously corrupts men and women and opens the door to moral and every other kind of wickedness. The first record of “spin” on pure doctrine came in the Garden when the serpent seduced Eve into believing that God’s declaration needed some tweaking. The horrific result is that the First Couple acquiesced to the will of the anti-God and plunged the world into fratricide (very next chapter), adultery, incest, idolatry, patricide, rape, warmongering, and all kinds of invented evil. And we’re only up to Genesis Six!
What launched it? I again contend: bad theology.
A low view of God, a bad view of God, a wrong view of God, the enemy’s view of God, man’s take on God. You name it.
Paul pled with Timothy to “rightly divide” the scriptures. Literally, “make a straight cut.” Don’t proof-text or eisegete the scriptures, don’t put your spin on them, soft-peddle or add meaning. Don’t think your sermon is finished when you’ve cleared the “clever” bar and feel like you’ve produced something that will tip the “wow” factor. Preach the logos (2 Tim 4:2).
That means, preach the revelation of Holy God, careful to remove your breath from the text, adding nothing and subtracting nothing.
In the same passage, Paul warned Timothy about a day when full numbers of professing believers will opt for bad theology because it titillates the flesh, and somehow validates our wicked choices.
That day is here, by the by. The people in the rows of our fellowships are shipping out to find UNsound doctrine. The old apostle accosted young Tim to NOT give in, but to keep preaching “sound doctrine.” Healthy doctrine. Reliable doctrine. Whole doctrine. Why? Because there’s always hope.
And because there’s a remnant that yearns for truth – not mere intellectual truth – that can be experienced by the power of His grace, and lived out autobiographically.
What’s wrong with the Western Church? There’s a lot of answers to that question, but whatever we say in answer to it, remember: it all got pushed through from unreliable pulpits that opted for relevance (what do the people want?) or higher criticism (hath God said?). In short:
God is purging pulpits in this country, which is testament to His mercy. He’s cleaning house. If He doesn’t do it, well, I sure hope He makes His appearance on earth soon.
God help us.
God have mercy.