"...When He [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd." Matt 9:36

"Do not rob the poor, because he is poor... for the Lord will take up their case and plunder those who plunder them." Proverbs 22:22-23

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Disgraced Preachers - The Word is "Malpractice"

"Here of course [in a discussion of ministerial ethics] we are not concerned with doctrine but with purity and credibility. We must expect those in positions of spiritual leadership to be faithful to their calling. If the lost cannot trust the preacher, how can they trust the message"? - Daniel R. Mitchell, 1988.

-----------------

Last week Liberty University announced that Daniel R. Mitchell (picture at left) would be the interim president of their seminary, replacing Ergun Caner, who we all know is no longer the president as of July 1st, 2010.

I've never heard of Mitchell before - apparently he is an academic dean and professor at Liberty's seminary - but several bloggers sent me a copy of a very insightful 1988 article written by Daniel R. Mitchell entitled "Disgraced Preachers - The Word is Malpractice" (.pdf file of the article is here). Although written 22 years ago around the time of the Swaggart scandal, it is more timely today for Baptists than it was when he wrote it. Mitchell's article focuses not on just sexual sins committed by preachers, but those who violate codes of trust and honesty - "purity AND credibility" as he says in the quote above.

"Malpractice" is the term we use to describe incompetence, or reckless acts by professionals such as doctors, lawyers, and engineers that hurt people. Mitchell advocated back in 1988 that the term be applied to ministers who violate the trust given to them by the church.

Here are some notable quotes from Mitchell's article:

"Malpractice is the term we must also apply to professional ministers of the gospel who violate their trust. Preachers who raise money for themselves and not the work, who use people instead of serve people, who lust for power and sex and status, and who use their platform to satisfy their greed violate the code of the spiritual elder (1 Tim 3)."
And this one, referring to a "crisis in confidence" created by undisciplined
preachers:

"We must correct the crisis in confidence that is generated by the present situation. More is at stake here than just the credibility of the offending preacher. When we fail to impose discipline, fallen preachers drag every minister of the gospel - indeed the gospel itself - into the mire with them. Legitimate preachers and church leaders must call each other to accountability and demand compliance with God's standard for ministry."
Mitchell goes on to say that many local congregations "...[do] not have the inclination of the power to oust its wayward pastor..." and thus they do nothing to discipline the pastor.

And thus, we have blogs. Blogs I believe have filled the void that exists for accountability amongst the Baptists - a void that does not exist so much in other protestant denominations. That is what Christa Brown's blog is about, and so is Tiffany Croft's blog: holding pastors accountable in a religious system designed to have minimum accountability for its ministers allowing them to continue in their misdeeds. I would imagine when Darrell Gilyard is released from prison, there will be no "defrocking" of his credentials and no formal statement of his repentance or oversight of his restoration process - but he will likely just go to another church.

That may well happen, but thank God Tiffany's blog will be a voice of accountability and warning, as will Christa Brown's - and others - when that day comes.

I have long said that if there were blogs when around when Bob Gray was doing his dirty deeds at Trinity Baptist Church, the powerless would have had a voice early on and the damage he did here in Jacksonville would have been reduced by some measure. If there was a blog about Darrell Gilyard back in the late 1980's and early 1990's, perhaps some of the folks at Shiloh Baptist Church would not have been so trusting of the "man of God" Gilyard - for he came from a religious system - the Southern Baptist Convention - that was powerless to remove his credentials as a minister.

As I blogged about in 2007 in the early days of the Gilyard scandal, there WAS a voice to hold Gilyard accountable when he came to Jacksonville in 1993. His name was Pastor Harvey; but Shiloh church leadership successfully silenced him through legal processes. And before too long Gilyard was back to his old tricks. Too bad Pastor Harvey didn't have a blog back in April 1993.

As Mitchell says:
"We must view failure to maintain these standards as ministerial malpractice worthy of public censure and/or removal from ministry. The crisis in confidence threatens us all. Failure to take appropriate action will surely lead to continued widespread skepticism."
Amen.

And failure to maintain these standards will most assuredly lead to widespread blogging.

19 comments:

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

And I would add: it is somewhat ironic that many Baptist pastors are advocating to a return of "biblical church discipline" to hold churhc members accountable for their public sins....but Baptist pastors steadfastly refuse any system of accountability for themselves. In fact as we see now, they not only don't want accountability, they are overtly excusing the public sin of one of their biggest named preachers. How sad.

Reminds me of the Catholics: any minister can be defrocked and have his credentials stripped to prevent him from ministering....all except the pope, he can't be defrocked.

Anonymous said...

Has it occured to anyone that if Dan Mitchell were so concerned about integrity and truth, he would leave Liberty? The Leadership of Liberty have already shown their lack of scruples by their reactions and response to this scandal. And they still employ a liar to teach young people.

Yes, Dan would be more concerned with truth and integrity than his personal comfort. But that never seems to be the case. Therefore, these men think their "words" mean something. They don't.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Anon - no, that never occured to me. So any person who stays at Liberty is not concerned with integrity and truth? I say that guys like Mitchell should stay there and fight for their school, and do their best to hold their leadership accountable.

Bennett Willis said...

EC's issues must have effects at LU that we don't hear about. There are certainly some there who recognize and understand the impact of the problem on the school, students and themselves. There is just a lot of downside and no upside to making a fuss.

It is time to keep your head down and hope that no student raises the question during some ethics discussion. But I am confident that some are having problems with that.

debbiekaufman said...

And I would add: it is somewhat ironic that many Baptist pastors are advocating to a return of "biblical church discipline" to hold churhc members accountable for their public sins....but Baptist pastors steadfastly refuse any system of accountability for themselves. In fact as we see now, they not only don't want accountability, they are overtly excusing the public sin of one of their biggest named preachers. How sad.

It is sad, frustrating too. We are a mess. No wonder our numbers are going down.

I also agree with you that I am glad Dan Mitchell was chosen after reading the article he wrote. I pray he still believes it as strongly as he did at the time he wrote it. He will be a needed addition.

gary dilworth said...

"...we grieve, Lord, about those people who have been in spiritual leadership and have sinned and have lost their integrity and when their integrity was lost, Your honor was lost and they have dishonored You and they have not adorned the doctrine of God, but they've smudged it and smeared it with their iniquity.

O Father, may we be like David who shepherded in the integrity of his heart and the skill of his hands. We want to be skillful but with the skill must come the integrity. Give us leaders of integrity who are faithful. Make us Christians with integrity, for we too have a world of influence among believers and unbelievers. We too bring glory to Your name when we live lives of integrity, when we live what we say we believe. Keep us consistent, Lord, that You might be honored, that we might be offering up our lives as spiritual acts of worship to You. And, Father, we're so grateful that Your Holy Spirit can accomplish this in us which in our flesh we could never do, so we plead with You to be gracious and grant us the Spirit who alone can uphold our integrity, for Your glory in Christ's name. Amen." (That's all MacArthur on 2 Cor. 5:11)

Anonymous said...

Just wait my friends, Mac Brunson will some way find a reason to bring Caner back to the pulpit @ FBCJ to defend the two of them - they both feel bloggers are their "Public Enemies" because of mispoken words they said. Of course they will do so with fake sobbing.

Debbie Kauffman is right, we are a mess and reason people are leaving the environment of celebrity preachers and the mega churches.

Anonymous said...

I cannot speak for Dan Mitchell's leadership skills beyond the level of the classroom, but having taken his theology classes, he is a good choice for this time. He seeks theological precision, but does not do so as contentiously as Caner (who taught two of my classes). In many ways, he is the opposite of Caner, which makes sense in the given situation.

If he leads as dean with the same level head that he exercises in training people in theological matters (including opponents), the school will be able to make critical adjustments and move forward gracefully.

Doug Pittman said...

Yeah, go the church discipline route and watch the internet explode with websites that will bring Baptist to their knees, literally.

It was be the nail in the coffin and the Armageddon for that denomination!

Three years later I am still battling those who thought that church discipline without notification was the best way to handle me exposing sin in the camp of a pastor and his staff.

When you expose the Pastor's son FOR being in PORNOGRAPHY AND HIS MUSIC MINISTER FOR PORN.... AND THEN HIS "DISCIPLED DEACONS" WANT TO Tell THE THE CHURCH A LIE SUCH AS " WE ARE GOING TO TELL THE CHURCH, HE IS RESIGNING DUE TO HEALTH REASON".........

I just did the simple thing and told the truth.

Truth is something many of those "within the Baptist Mafia" hate!

Need I say more...Church discipline? Yeah get the shovels ready Baptist

Richard said...

Off Topic.

Your views on tithing

Tithing — giving 10 percent of your income to a religious organization — may be relatively easy to practice in good times. But what about when times get tough? If you're someone who has adjusted your tithing due to economic circumstances, or kept your giving steady, contact Times-Union religion writer Jeff Brumley at jeff.brumley@jacksonville.com. Be sure to include a daytime phone number and let us know if you are willing to be contacted for an interview.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 11:06 obviously doesn't know Dan Mitchell. Mitchell and many of his colleagues have been invested in Liberty for decades. They've watched as this or that "celebrity" (singer, coach, preacher, professor, etc.) would come and go, and have stayed the course. Liberty has done well in naming Mitchell as the interim dean. It will be to their discredit if they pass him over for consideration as a permanent dean in order to bring in a "name".

Anonymous said...

"I say that guys like Mitchell should stay there and fight for their school, and do their best to hold their leadership accountable."

That sounds nice but let's take a look at that in practice. The "leadership" signs his paycheck. He answers to the Board and to Falwell.

So far, what have we seen from the board and Falwell?

These types of places are extremely hierarchical. If anything, they will have more influence on Dan than he will have on them.

I am always astonished that people will take "words" and believe them over actual deeds.

Will we hear more "words" from Dan on his position of Caner's innocence and Liberty's continuation of allowing a liar to teach young minds?

Anonymous said...

Some of these megas want it all...money, power, and above all PRESTIGE. Jesus NEVER HAD any money, HELD BACK his power, and taught how a pastor or leader should be a SERVANT not the HEAD an organization or business.

There is going to be an accounting in Heaven for all of these apostate preachers. Unfortunately, the members who suffer down here will have to wait awhile longer for this accounting to take place. Seldom do the deacon boards ever say they are sorry. They will hide things to proclaim "we didn't want to embarrass the church". What they really mean is that they didn't want everyone to know just how bad their decisions were in hiring some of these personalities!!!

You do realize some of these pastor contracts carry very high penalties if the church removes them prior to their contract ending date. Some just never learn and its called discernment. There needs to be a school for discernment because it is surely LACKING!!!! Spiritual discernment is rare in most pulpits today.

Gary said...

If this had not spread to the print media,Caner might still have his job.
I think the internet is a two way street. Sometimes the print media feed off the work done by bloggers, sometimes it's the other way around. Keep up the good work.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

An anonymous poster posted the following comment tonight, on a previous article:

"You'll be happy to know that NJBC has cancelled Dr. Caner's appearance. So now, instead of talking bad about a man of God that you know NOTHING about, perhaps you can stop. Not all preachers are bad people for pity's sake. "

Anon who posted this - how do you know that NJBC canceled, and it wasn't Ergun Caner? And why on earth would they cancel Caner?

New BBC Open Forum said...

Hey,

Someone send Brumley this.

gary dilworth said...

Watchdog,
Check this one from Pyromaniacs

And please note Geislers take on a different mythmaker.

How I Learned the Hard Way that Pious Gullibility Is No Virtue
by Phil Johnson
http://teampyro.blogspot.com/

Jim said...

I am amazed by the amount of minimizing that continues to go on concerning Michael Caner. His supporters call him "innocent" and his detractors just charge "lying." Both miss the mark. The record seems pretty clear that Michael Caner transformed into Ergund Caner after the terrorist attacks of 9/11. He used the deaths of nearly 3,000 human beings as his big break into the "show business" of Evangelical Christian church in America. With the skillful eye of one well-practiced in deceit, he saw fear in his "marks" and played them. HE CONDUCTED HIMSELF LIKE A CON-MAN. Ergund Caner exploited the deaths of nearly 3,000 men, women and children in order to gain status and wealth. He isn't just a liar, and he doesn't belong in a seminary classroom. He belongs in prison.

Junkster said...

The truth of the great Caner conspiracy is finally out:

A Difficult Confession