Wednesday, March 28, 2018

The elder board's dilemma


                In a large church in a major American metropolis, there were two candidates for head pastor. One was selected for the pastorate. Then, after a year in the pastorate, it is discovered that the chosen pastor had had an affair with a porn star 10 years before, but, more than this, just before the final decision, he paid the star $10,000 for her silence. But the elder board says, “God is a God of forgiveness. Let’s give him a mulligan, and let him remain the preacher of the church.”
                What elder board would say a thing like that?

21 comments:

Legion of Logic said...

Could a guy who heavily persecuted the church, up to and including approving the execution of Christians, be called to preach with great power and authority? I think there is precedent for such a thing, yes, and I think that's worse than some idiot porn star affair. Would the elder board be justified in removing thr apostle Paul from their church if he showed up?

However, the requirements for an elder board's approval of a pastor and the requirements for an electorate's approval of a politician are not the same. In the former, he is called to lead his flock by example, so egregious personal failings are amplified. In the latter, he is elected to implement the policies of whichever side voted him into office. That grants a lot more leeway in personal failings, particularly when two sides are increasingly drifting farther apart and the alternative is deemed completely unacceptable.

Victor Reppert said...

I have a lot of trouble with the idea that the President's example is not important. Of course it is. When the Clinton scandals came out, a lot of people were upset that young people of the time used Clinton's conduct as an excuse for their own.

In any event, the problem isn't the affair, to my mind. It's the ongoing concealment. The way the White House has it, the lawyer paid $130,000 to conceal nothing, since it didn't happen.

SteveK said...

Victor: "What elder board would say a thing like that?"

It sure seems like you don't approve of grace and forgiveness, Victor.

There's nothing *necessarily* anti-Christian about this. The decision doesn't undermine Christianity.

It might not be the most wise thing to do because maybe most of the church members are against the decision, but let's say they are in a forgiving mood and would like the pastor to stay because he helps a lot of people as pastor. Do you still have a problem with this decision?

SteveK said...

OT but arguably related to this post...I wonder what Catholics will do with a Pope that speaks against the teachings of the Catechism?

Pope Francis on hell and the unrepentant:
"They are not punished, those who repent obtain the forgiveness of God and enter the rank of souls who contemplate him, but those who do not repent and cannot therefore be forgiven disappear. There is no hell, there is the disappearance of sinful souls"

SteveK said...

The above quote from the Pope is what is being reported today. There's certainly more to the story. I'm somewhat suspicious because the media ALWAYS pulls a stunt around Easter time to make Christian's look bad. Time will tell.

Victor Reppert said...

I do approve of forgiveness. But trustworthiness is still an issue. Admittedly, an extramarital affair by itself is more damaging to a pastor's career than a President's, but an ongoing effort to use money to conceal wrongdoing from those who would choose him for a position of trust, that is still a problem. My argument is that it is not sufficient to appeal to the doctrine of forgiveness (I John 1:9 and all that) when are ongoing trust issues. The pastor case illustrates this. During the campaign after Access Hollywood Trump confessed only to locker room talk (which he did apologize for) and then said that all the sexual accusations against him were false and that the women accusing him were liars, and he got elected after that. Now you have him, or his surrogates, using substantial sums of money to keep at least two women quiet about what he has done. This raises further questions about whether, for example, the President can be, or is now being blackmailed.The White House is still denying the affair, which means, I guess, that the attorney spent $130,000 of his own money to keep a woman silent about something that never happened.

Victor Reppert said...

Will God forgive me if I have an affair? If I confess and change my conduct accordingly, sure. Will my wife forgive me? That's going to be up to her. If I keep denying it and pretending to others that it didn't happen when it did, that is an ongoing offense that has to stop before I can receive that forgiveness and get a "mulligan." The most famous mulligan in the Bible is King David, and he didn't get that by chopping Nathan's head off and pretending that it didn't happen. (And he paid quite a price for it!).

Starhopper said...

"I think there is precedent for such a thing"

Yes there is, and a huge part of that precedent is true contrition on the part of St. Paul ("I am the greatest of sinners", etc.) When I see a comparable indication of repentance on the part of a certain adulterer with porn stars, then maybe I'll give your "precedent" some credence.

Separate issue: The Vatican is denying today that Pope Francis said any such thing. I've read the reports, and I think that no such comment was ever made. Scalfari does not even have any notes from his conversation with the pope, and certainly no recording. I think he heard what he wanted to hear. I do not believe Scalfari is lying - he is just projecting. We have many, many documented statements by the pope that contradict what Scalfari is asserting with no evidence other than his own say-so.

Legion of Logic said...

Starhopper: "When I see a comparable indication of repentance on the part of a certain adulterer with porn stars, then maybe I'll give your "precedent" some credence."

That was only analogous to the hypothetical pastor in the example, though admittedly Victor does not state whether the pastor was repentant for what he had done. Such precedent as Paul set should be considered if the pastor truly had been ashamed of his own behavior.

Trump won't ever be sorry for anything, no matter what, so my bringing up Paul was in no way an exercise in excusing Trump of anything. It was merely to highlight the difference in impact such actions have on each office, with the context being a Christian being able to vote for Trump but not support a pastor when both are guilty of the same behavior and equally not sorry. Don't support the pastor, you get a new one. Don't support Trump, you get Hillary and the country goes in a direction you find harmful.

I suppose a true analogy would be your traditional pastor is caught in the affair and buyoff, but the only other option for pastor is someone who wants to open the congregation to all faiths as being equally valid, along with preaching health and wealth, and who says that teaching Christ as the sole means by which we are saved is exclusionary. If it was a situation where you somehow could not leave the church and had to have one of those pastors, who would you pick?

My understanding is that most evangelicals supported Ted Cruz over Trump during the primary, but once Trump took the nomination, it was Trump or Hillary. And while I was horrified that Trump won, I was overjoyed that Hillary lost, so I sort of get it. And that problem still remains today. To impeach Trump, even ignoring the chaos that would ensue, is to give progressives more power and/or momentum, and no conservative would want that in our lovely, increasingly divided discourse. So here we are.

Starhopper said...

"Don't support Trump, you get Hillary"

Not true. Don't support Trump, and you get Pence.

Clinton is in our rear view mirror. It would be best for our country if Trump joined her back there.

Legion of Logic said...

"It would be best for our country if Trump joined her back there."

Not if it wasn't done correctly. I'd rather Trump in office than an escalation in violence. Things are increasingly volatile, and neither side seems interested in extending olive branches.

Starhopper said...

It is seldom appropriate to extend olive branches to traitors - and never to those still engaged in their treason.

SteveK said...

Starhopper: "It would be best for our country if Trump joined her back there."

A ton of people disagree with your opinion. They disagree for reasons I've already explained and are willing to give him a chance to do the job they want him to to.

In the case of the pastor, if the church members wanted an unapologetic pastor to stay because he helps a lot of people as pastor is this acceptable? I think so because it's their decision to make, not yours.

You might say that another person can do the pastor's job equally as well, but that is arguable. We don't know that. You can't duplicate individual personalities. People usually side with the devil they know rather than the devil they don't know.

Legion of Logic said...

Starhopper: "It is seldom appropriate to extend olive branches to traitors - and never to those still engaged in their treason."

I was actually talking about progressives and conservatives. However, Article 3 Section 3 of the United States Constitution defines treason:

"Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court."

Can you explain how Trump has committed one of these high crimes against the United States?

SteveK said...

Starhopper: "It is seldom appropriate to extend olive branches to traitors - and never to those still engaged in their treason."

Demagoguery like this only makes the situation worse. Most supporters ignore rhetoric of this sort and in response many choose to double down on their support for Trump. You're not helping.

SteveK said...

Victor: "My argument is that it is not sufficient to appeal to the doctrine of forgiveness (I John 1:9 and all that) when are ongoing trust issues"

Is there a doctrine of trust that can tell me when someone is untrustworthy? If being unrepentant makes you untrustworthy then you would be called by Christ to never trust non-believers.

I think trusting someone (or not) is a personal/individual decision.

Starhopper said...

Legion, Your citing the constitution's description of treason is spot on. However, that is not the only valid definition of the term. For instance, Mirriam-Webster defines treason as "the betrayal of a trust". Trump's shameless using his office as an opportunity to line his own and his family's pockets is demonstrably treasonous under that definition, as is his naked obstruction of justice, and his trashing of the FBI and Justice Department. Plus, his ongoing collusion with Putin's thuggish regime to the detriment of US interests clearly fits the constitution's understanding of what constitutes treason.

But more importantly, I fail to understand how you are not nauseated by this man's very existence, let alone the fact he is (by an electoral fluke) the president.

Legion of Logic said...

Starhopper: "For instance, Mirriam-Webster defines treason as "the betrayal of a trust"."

Yes, with that definition Trump has betrayed. So has every other president in history who didn't uphold a campaign promise, by this definition. Obama is a traitor?


"But more importantly, I fail to understand how you are not nauseated by this man's very existence, let alone the fact he is (by an electoral fluke) the president."

Is there any particular reason the parenthetical was included? Perhaps as a way to delegitimize Trump being the lawfully elected president of the United States? I get so bogged down battling rhetoric that sometimes I never can get to actual substance.

On to your primary point, other than people such as murderers and rapists, there is no man or woman on this earth whom I am nauseated by their mere existence. I may get nauseated by someone's behavior, but not their simple act of existing. God didn't grant me that sort of moral authority.


Starhopper said...

Hyperbole, I admit. But I truly have never heard of anyone, outside of fiction, who has so truly repelled me by the sheer force of his vileness. It totally mystifies me that any decent person would want to associate himself with a person who lies with every breath he takes, who trashes all that is holy and decent before breakfast (yes, hyperbole again), let alone how he spends the rest of his day, who shows not a scintilla of sympathy for anyone else's troubles - prefering to think only about "Me, me, me!", who publically and unapologetically relishes his many objective sins (no "judging" here - pride, greed, and adultery are sins in anyone's book), who believes the government exists to serve him and not the American people, and (to top it all off) is likely to stumble into yet another insane war over nothing, and totally against our country's interests.

How is it possible for anyone calling himself a Christian to not run as fast as he can in the opposite direction, let alone defend him? Physicists love to talk about the mysteries of dark matter, gravitational waves, and quantum entanglement, but this beats them all.

Legion of Logic said...

"How is it possible for anyone calling himself a Christian to not run as fast as he can in the opposite direction, let alone defend him?"

I can't help but feel that Trump is the only honest politician - as in, whatever other politicians carefully spin or do behind closed doors while presenting a faux dignified front, he just brazenly does out in the open. They are all a bunch of rich manipulative liars who care more for themselves (i.e. their donors) than me.

In case it isn't apparent, I'm heavily jaded with both political parties. Those most attracted to power are often the least suited to hold it. At this point all I can really care about is their policies, because I dislike just about all of them personally. I dislike what they stand for within their parties, I dislike being represented by people who don't understand what it's like to not be able to pay bills, I dislike liars, I dislike hypocrites, and I dislike manipulators - I just swept the White House and Congress clean. Trump sucks, but who precisely would replace him that isn't also part of the problem? They are almost all part of the problem. Hell, the fact that Trump wasn't a politician was one of his biggest selling points with people in the primaries. Shiny speeches and carefully controlled dignity to the public don't change a corrupt heart. Bush gave us Iraq, a far worse event for our country than anything Trump has done or probably will do, yet even Bush is treated with more respect. I don't buy into the game.

Of course, it's ultimately voters' fault for tolerating the two party corrupt system we have right now with their fear mongering against the other side, so I don't even vote usually because they are almost all fatally flawed, and the ones I see who give a glimmer of hope never stand a chance at winning. That's why when I see everyone crying over an Obama or a Trump, I just shrug and go on about my business. The country will be here in 2020 and things won't really be any better or worse than they are now.

SteveK said...

Starhopper: “How is it possible for anyone calling himself a Christian to not run as fast as he can in the opposite direction, let alone defend him?”

There are a variety of reasons why. Many of them are not anti-Christian or immoral.

The good news is we can agree to disagree about Trump without resorting to demagoguery, however the bad news is you enjoy that sort of thing. Seek help.