"...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

Monday, September 17, 2012

Al Mohler Declares: Church Members Don't Have a Right to Leave Their Church, Except for "Theological" Errors

"We have no right to leave a church over preferences about music, personal taste, or even programming that does not meet expectations".  Pope Albert the Pious I
-------------------
 Al Mohler has declared from his lofty perch at SBTS that church members do not have the "right" to leave their church, unless it is for a primary doctrinal reason.

Apparently we aren't smart enough to know when it is in the best interests of our family to leave and join another church. No, we need Albert the Pious and the other seminary-trained holy-men-of-God to tell us when we can leave, and when we can't leave. After all, as Albert said last year, pastors are "God-appointed agents to save God's people from ignorance."

Says Albert:

"When members leave for insufficient reason, the fellowship of the church is broken, its witness is weakened, and the peace and unity of the congregation are sacrificed...we have no right to leave a church over preferences about music, personal taste, or even programming that does not meet expectations..."

"Christians cannot look to this question as merely a matter of consumerism. We are called to love the church and to pray for its peace and unity, not to look for an opportunity to move to another congregation."

This is not only unbiblical, it is just plain stupid and illogical. Let me give just a few reasons why Mohler is out in left field on this issue:

1. "The Church" is NOT the same as "501(c)3 religious organization": Mohler wrongly equates local 501(c)3 religious organizations with the "church" in scripture. We've beat this dead horse before, but if I leave ABC Baptist Church, I'm not "leaving the church" - I'm changing 501(c)3 religious organizations. Christians absolutely are free in Christ and free as Americans to change churches as often as they wish, for whatever reason they deem fit, as led by their conscience and faith. And they're even free, and have a Christian right to not be a member of ANY 501(c)3 religious organization.

2.  If Al is right, why do pastors change churches so often?:  Al conveniently forgot that the average baptist senior pastor stays at their church for 6-7 years before moving on to another church. And when a SBC pastor leaves his church for greener pastures, it rarely has anything to do with major theological differences - instead we are told that "God called" the pastor to his new church.  In fact, the mega church rock stars go to great lengths to tell us how God told them to change churches - like while riding a donkey in the Holy Land and other such tales. Apparently God is capable only of calling pastors to change churches - but dang it the plebe have to stay at a church until the church denies the Trinity - or worse, they hire a woman pastor.  Al, if you really believe what you're saying, please tell pastors that once they become pastor of a church, they should stay there for their entire career.

3.  Why then, do mega churches spend so much on church marketing?  Al says people who change churches without a deep theological rift have a "consumerism" mindset. If we are not "consumers" and should not select a church based on preferences like worship style or programs offered by the church, then why on earth do mega churches treat us like consumers and spend so much money on church marketing, trying to steal sheep, and hiring guys like Maurilio Amorim? Al, if you really believe what you're saying, train your pastors to stop spending "God's money" on so much church marketing! And for goodness sake, please mega church pastors, inquire as to the reason why someone is joining your church and turn away those members who left their prior church for personal preferences!

4.  What About Abusive Churches and Pastors? Using Albert's standard, even if we find that our pastor covered-up for a pedophile, we don't have a right to leave the church. Sorry, Al, but most clear-thinking Christians know when it is in our best interests and the interests of our families to flee an abusive church and/or pastor. For example, I don't need a theological reason to leave a church pastored by this creep showing kids at a youth service how to "polish a shaft".

We could go on, but you get the point. Christian, you and your family have the right - even the Christian responsibility - to change churches and take your money with you for any reason you deem fit. It could be because the newly appointed pastor is more of a traveling evangelist who loves to go on cruises with the rich folk. Or maybe the pastor is an angry, pompous ass in the pulpit and you just can't stomach his rants each week.  It could be because your kids don't fit into the youth group, or the youth group is dysfunctional. It could be even something as simple as worship style preferences.

Friends, Albert Mohler is regarded by many to be one of the greatest minds in modern day evangelicalism. Albert telling church members they are morally bound to stay attached to their 501(c)3 religious organization else they are harming the cause of Christ, tells me that we not only can't trust men like Mohler and those he trains to teach the bible rightly, we can't trust them to make arguments that are logical, or even congruent with their other core beliefs.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
"Hotel Calvinista":

"Last thing I remember, I was
Running for the door
I had to find the church house
at the place I was before
'relax,' said Albert Mohler,
We are programmed to receive.
You can checkout any time you like,
But you can never leave!"

49 comments:

New BBC Open Forum said...

I kept waiting for it, and he finally got around to it near the end -- lumping homosexuals in with "women in the pastorate." Mohler's not only lumped these things together, he's elevated them to "primary" status, right up there with the Trinity.

Mac Brunson's depo in the second case...

Victorious said...

...."people feel free to leave one congregation for another for virtually any reason, or no reason at all..."

How dare we!? Really...how dare we exercise our freedom of choice? lol

Excellent post, Rich.

Anonymous said...

"people feel free to leave one congregation for another for virtually any reason, or no reason at all..."

Substitute the word "job" for "congregation" and you have what is called a "right to work" state. We can change jobs, but not where we show up once or twice a week to hear a sermon? It seems these Christian leaders do not realize they are losing the hearts and minds of their congregants and instead of trying to be more flexible to retain folks, they once again do exactly the opposite of what the 501C3 actually needs. Instead of making the tithe a priority right now, they should relax that and just ask people to give generously, not under compulsion, cheerfully. Instead of telling people to put the 501c3 above their families, they should tell them to make their family a priority, instead of trying to tell them to believe all of the scripture or none of it, they should be begging the people NOT to throw out all of the bible just because they disagree, don't understand, or can't believe some non-essential parts. This lack of wisdom on their parts is more proof these guys are not God's man, and they certainly don't "hear from God" and do not speak for God.

Anonymous said...

The "shaft polisher"really does take the cake.I remember sitting under a "pastor" years ago that seemed to tear into the congregation for not raising hands at his command and for stealing from God for not giving 10% to the church. We left that church and denomination and will never go back. I think you know who I an referring to.I would walk out today if my current minister used these tactics. If more pew sitters would do the same then a lot of con artist would be looking for honest work.

Julie Anne said...

Great post, Tom. I love the use of the Eagle's song - perfect!! hahahaha

I'm getting annoyed with pastors who think they own their flock. It's getting old. Mohler is harboring CJ who is also of the same ilk. SGM members have had a difficult time leaving their churches as well.

Anonymous said...

Tom,
You are incorrect on the "church". The church is a visibly organized body. You're biblically mistaken to think the church is not the "local assembly."
To leave the "local assembly" is to leave the "church."

Anonymous said...

A church teaching tithing over giving has a doctrinal issue. A church teaching you HAVE to come to church three times a week has a doctrinal issue. A church teaching you must "wear your Sunday best" to church has a doctrinal issue. A church that opens a five day a week child care or school has a doctrinal issue. A church that has no problem spending milions to build or expand new buildings has a doctrinal issue.

Anonymous said...

Why are there so many different churches? Simple...there are some good ones and some bad ones. The souls of Christians are inside them not inside four walls of a building. I have visited several churches and left all of them. Its almost always over the arrogance and power that the head man wants for himself. You had better realize that it is worse now than 10-20 years ago. The Lord admonishes us to not be discouraged when some revile against us. He is our strength and fortress. Chose this day who you will serve sums it all up. Quit tithing and see what that will get you. It ceertainly won't be brotherly love.

Anonymous said...

We are certainly in the church age of Laodicea! I don't think I have ever seen a time when more effort has been spent trying to take away our rights and freedom than today. We are losing our personal freedom of speech, right of assembly, freedom from government intrusion into our lives etc., now this nonsense. Can we say "CULT". I have never been nor will ever be "controlled" by any entity except the "Holy Spirit". This type of nonsense is an example of why churches are almost useless today. These preachers today look desperate trying to control people and certainly their money. Just a question: Does this include leaving one downtown church going to a satellite church? I guess not when the money goes to the same bank account.

Anonymous said...

The Church is the Bride of Christ.

Why would you "Divorce" one Bride and then "Marry" another because you got "your feelings hurt".

Tom, you left FBC for emotional reasons not scriptural reasons.

We did not leave you...you left us.

Please stop trying to tear down our Church. What God has joined together, let not man seperate.

People leave Churches like rats leaving a sinking ship, it is disgusting.

Don't be a rat.

Anonymous said...

I love this quote by this dear brother:

The Multi-Billion Dollar Fraud
Fraud even innocently perpetrated is still fraud in the eyes of the law. Although tithing is often innocently promoted by some well meaning yet highly misguided teachers, it is also pushed by some very greedy people, some of who are very much aware of the tithing error. Their love of money supercedes any interest in truth. And, far from being just another error, the modern tithing doctrine has become what amounts to a major multi-billion dollar fraud that has been and continues to be perpetrated upon the vast majority of Christians. Tithe teachers should be very careful. When it comes to money, especially such astronomical tax-free amounts, the government doesn’t take financial fraud lightly.

Even in church circles, even under the supposed protection of “spiritual matters” and the separation of church and state, if the government ever decides to get involved, and decides to look deeper into what is really going on here, tithe teachers could face some serious jail time and be required to give the money back and / or pay taxes on it. Such a crackdown could permanently compromise the tax-exempt status of even legitimate non-tithe promoting ministries such as some of those who help the poor. Jesus paid His taxes so I am not overly concerned about ministries having a tax-exempt status but these tithe teachers are playing fast and loose with billions of tax-free dollars, abusing multitudes financially, and they may end up in serious trouble with the law and end up ruining the tax-exempt status of all ministries even good ones.
-Paul Howey

tikatu said...

That creep who was teaching a youth group how to "polish a shaft" has signed off on a plea deal in federal court for taking a 16 year old (at the time) girl across state lines to have sex.

http://www.fbi.gov/indianapolis/press-releases/2012/former-hammond-minister-charged-by-information

Does Mohler want to know why people are leaving churches? This. Right. Here. Hypocrisy in action.

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:40 P.M. You are wearing your feelings on your sleeves. Tom was trespassed. Have you never read "two cannot walk together unless they are agreed". Tom is no rat he is a watchman on the wall. You just cannot believe he won and it bothers you, something you cannot deal with. The gates of hell cannot break through a real church. Go back and study the scriptures a little more carefully and use some real reasoning rather than that chip on your shoulder. You might be surprised to learn Tom is right.

Anonymous said...

"Tom is no rat he is a watchman on the wall. "

You'd have a hard time convincing Mac Brunson of that (some famous lines from Mac's Deposition)


Mac: Base on what he has written, I feel that he's a threat

Mac: I think he's too shrewd for that (to openly threaten Mac)

Mac: What I read made me think he was a threat

Mac: People take offense at almost anything in a church

No Hirelings!!! said...

Just one more reason why God seems to be calling His true sheep to "come out from among them and be seperate..."

No wonder so many people are leaving the SBC and institutional religious businesses that claim to be "churches" led by corporate CEO's that claim to be "pastors".

Anonymous said...

Undeniable ignorance x unbelievable arrogance = unimaginable bondage in the minds of unsuspecting believers. This guy needs to stop the bogus rhetoric, and teach the truth of the scriptures honestly!
Grace & Peace - Elder gab

Anonymous said...

I was in the middle of all of the discussions about the "Blog" at the highest levels at FBC.

Pastor never spoke negative or defensive about his pain.

He prayed for those who hate him.

I pray for you too..God have mercy on you for what you have done.

Anonymous said...

"He prayed for those who hate him."

Yes, he prayed dog would go away,

never willing to give up his

lavish lifestyle and hypocrisies?

Cool Preacher!

"God have mercy on you for what you have done."

?????What?????? is that?

Never Mac's fault or those that put him there?

This will always be a stigma on FBCJAx ... Money before People

Anonymous said...

You're biblically mistaken to think the church is not the "local assembly." To leave the "local assembly" is to leave the "church."

September 18, 2012 10:43 AM
___________________________________
Are you really equating a local assembly (found where in the Bible?) with the "CHURCH." Wow, us protestants have really strayed from the concept of what is "the Church" once we left it. (It being the Catholic church.) Now, any guy talking in front of a group of people can be called a "church" because they are assembling locally and the man is talking about religion, politics, advice for living, or just being an entertaining historian/orator.

Sorry anon, your local assembly, even if it does file paperwork to be deemed a 501(c)(3) under the IRS tax codes, does NOT make it a church! Sheesh!

Anonymous said...

Tom, you left FBC for emotional reasons not scriptural reasons.
__________________________________

Welcome to this brand new blog anon. I assume you are a first time reader since you are not aware that Tom did not leave FBC, rather Tom and his wife were issued trespass warnings. His wife was not even allowed in the sanctuary to hear her young daughter sing a solo. (The "reverend" for tax purposes, John Blount, directly denied a request to have the mother there when her minor daughter was singing.)

Why was Tom trespassed? Was it over doctrinal issues? NOPE. He never questioned any doctrines. It was over simply asking questions, that were ignored, and then blogging about his unanswered questions. And Blount and Soud and Brunson all showed their true character in the way they handled it. (Hinson?) And you people in the pew all showed your level of discernment by giving those men your money and loyalty, following men and not Jesus, which hurts the cause of Christ more than any blogger could ever do.

Anonymous said...

Pastor never spoke negative or defensive about his pain.
_________________________________

This is the biggest lie ever written on this blog. The man whined and stomped and threatened and pleaded and criticized and inserted rhetoric in his sermons over and over and over again for years about what one former member was writing on a blog.
Mac's concerns were heard by lawyers and judges and Mac (or his insurer) ended up paying damages and Tom's attorneys fees and costs IN FULL! And was made to apologize so blind followers like you can't come and try to spin it and say mac did nothing wrong.

Mac said he was sorry. Why can't you say the same?

Anonymous said...

Anon 11am:
Although your comments are correct, you are wasting your time. That poster is a TROLL! He is obsessed with this blog and defending his misunderstood and unappreciated man of GAWD! There is absolutely nothing Mac could possibly do where the TROLL would not make excuses for him. You see Mac is a victim and you can never blame the victim. The TROLL's values come from the culture that teaches us that the only thing you can do that is wrong is to criticize someone. Especially when it is someone you worship in place of Christ (his pastor). In addition, he has claimed to be from other churches as well (so he could defend their pastor). Don't try to educate the TROLL. He prefers to be ignorant.

Matt Richard said...

Al is not my favorite theologian or person. I'm about as far as you can be on the other side of the spectrum as he is. I also don't agree with the kind of church government that usually accompanies his theological bent. Respectfully, however, I think you made a little bit bigger deal about his comments than they warranted.

I really don't think he intends to impede anyone's freedom or expects someone to stay at a church where they are being harmed physically or spiritually. I think he is genuinely concerned with people viewing church as entertainment and jumping from one to the next for shallow reasons.

Could he have used better words to describe this, yes. I'm glad you called him out for using language that is too exclusive in that regard. But be careful of slamming him too hard simply because you don't agree with him theologically (which I assume is the case), or dislike him personally.

WishIhadknown said...

By logical extension of Al Mohler’s reasoning, churches should not accept new members by transfer of letter; otherwise the churches are guilty of aiding and abetting sin.

Eric Lockhart said...

"There are times, however, when it is right to separate from a congregation or denomination. But in such a case, the issue is not taste but theology."

Al Mohler. Same article. He is simply saying we too easily give up on our local assemblies when they don't meet our preferences. I don't think this is wrong to say. It neither justifies pastors leaving nor says you cannot leave. It says consider why you are leaving.

The reason you listed of the pervert leading a church, or youth group, is a theological reason. Clearly, he does not meet the Scriptural requirements for an overseer. The question is, is the body best served by everyone just leaving, or by bringing discipline to him, which hopefully leads to repentance.

Anonymous said...

We have been members of several different congregations , and each move has been a positive experience. We have made many new friends and retained our old ones. We have been enriched by the variety of spiritual gifts and the various ways of 'doing church' we have found. Multi-congregationalism is also recommended as a preparation for the great day 'when the saints go marching in.'

Anonymous said...

Anon Re: Tom left for emotional reasons. Wrong. Tom left for logical and spiritual reasons. How old are you 12?

Anonymous said...

Some discerning members leave when they see the writing on the wall. Then others later see the message. Appears a lot more are getting the message and it ain't good.

Rick Frueh said...

Are pastors allowed to leave their church and take another pastorate? The Bourgousie in the ecclesia continue to control the Proletariat.

Anonymous said...

Who died and left Al Mohler in charge? Oh yeah, Jesus died and 2000 years later the insane are running the asylum.
This is the reason I left the church --Mind control, money control, manipulation, greed, selfishness, kingdom of man, etc.
Now I'm free to read the Bible for myself and worship God in Spirit and in truth--I'm free at last, thank God almighty I'm free at last!

Anonymous said...

I was reading II Corinthians today. Paul talks about how he did manual labor so that the Corinthians would not be burdened (have to pay him).

How different is that from today's mega-church pastor?

Anonymous said...

Here is the sister in-law of the polish-a-shaft guy:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pdtxM0rD86I&feature=player_embedded#!

Anonymous said...

If I am not mistaken, Dr. Mohler is a preaching/teaching pastors at one of the campuses at Highview Church in Louisville, Kevin Ezell's former church. Dr. Mohler may not officially be on staff, but he is a member and has preached regularly at one of Highview's locations in the past. I wonder how many of Highview's members came through transfer of membership? I wonder if Dr. Mohler has proposed that Highview no longer accept members through transfer of membership unless they are coming from a different geographical area? Please for

New BBC Open Forum said...

I remember sitting under a "pastor" years ago that seemed to tear into the congregation for not raising hands at his command and for stealing from God for not giving 10% to the church. We left that church and denomination and will never go back. I think you know who I an referring to.

{raises hand}

Anonymous said...

My years and they are many indicate that most members very seldom open their Bibles in any day of the week unless they are called upon by the pastor to even open it and read along with him. Most attendees go to church for social reasons are to market their products or profession. If you were to get them to tell you why they go to church it would be for almost anything other than to learn scripture. You do not get that in thses 20 minute snipits especially when the pastor is all over the place in telling his latest book review or travel plans. The reason the church is so silent on the issues of life today is because the ministers are concerned with their retirement nest eggs. So true but someone has to call a spade a spade.

Anonymous said...

Personal choice in marriage, employment, church membership, clubs. etc. That is what makes America GREAT. Its in our Constitution. Its called freedom and no one can take it away from us yet.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if Al would say it is ok for a SBC pastor to leave a congregation after he has convinced them to go into debt, because he got a higher paying "job" at another religious themed business. Many pastors will talk a church/religious themed business into borrowing money (unbiblical) and when they are in debt, the pastor sudenly says that "God calls him somewhere else".

Anonymous said...

Not at all biblical. About 90% of everything we do "at church" is man-made.

Anonymous said...

Leave.

Leave and don't let the door hit you where the good Lord split you.

I am glad you are gone Tom and our Church is healthier and holier now that the "vine has been pruned".

Go and don't ever come back.

Please.

Anonymous said...

The $1000 challenge is still in effect for today. You can win $1000 for your ministry by simply doing the presenting the following:

a) One example of anyone in the Bible that God punished for ridiculing or criticizing the behavior or statements of a minister/pastor, or for questioning or disagreeing with a minister/pastor.

b) One single, solitary verse of scripture that states OR implies one should not ridicule or criticize the behavior or statements of a minister/pastor, or that one should not question or disagree with a minister/pastor.

c) The passages of scripture which collectively show that the ONLY response to false/questionable teachings and corrupt/abusive practices by ministry leaders is to "leave it to God" and do nothing but just pray.

Anonymous said...

Anon on leave. Can you indicate where you got "the vine has been pruned" in scripture?

Anonymous said...

"who died and left Al Mohler in charge?" Apparently Al thinks God has left him in charge. So do many others like him.

Anonymous said...

I actually sort of agree with Mohler as I believed you left over sound doctrine with FBC Jax and the points you made are legitimate doctrinal problems as well. I don't believe a church is to be an institution but a community of believers. To leave with disdain is proclaim a judgement toward them. You really can't get around it.

Anonymous said...

"Leave and don't let the door hit you where the good Lord split you."

This is the maturity level of the average pew sitter. Really really sad.

Anonymous said...

Late to the discussion, but maybe somebody can close the gap between Al's thinking for me, because I've tried and come up with nothing but a whole lot of illogic.

If pastors are to enlighten the ignorant masses, but the masses can leave when the pastor's theology goes askew, how can the ignorant masses know when the pastor has become theologically unsound?

Perhaps the ignorant masses should query their pastors regarding their theological soundness when their puny brains catch a flicker of heresy. I'm CERTAIN pastors will be forthcoming.

-Chris

Nicholas said...

If anyone wants to know the truth about Al Mohler, go here: http://thewartburgwatch.com/2012/11/07/phillip-gunn-sbts-al-mohler-legal-rightmoral-right/

Anonymous said...

If you spend half as much time telling others about Jesus as you do being jealous of pastors, then you are doing a great work for the kingdom.

Anonymous said...

It's unbiblical? Mohler hasn't even stated one Scripture here to back up what he says. Members dont have a right to leave a dead or dysfunctional church? I believe the church is in a sick state today. There are too many men that are in the pastorate that should not be there. The bad pastors, in most cases, scatter the flocks! Jeremiah 23 not only states woe to those shepherds who scatter my sheep but it also states that the Lord will place shepherds over them that will feed them! That's a perfect example that there are times you must leave a church! “Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pasture!” declares the Lord. 2 Therefore this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says to the shepherds who tend my people: “Because you have scattered my flock and driven them away and have not bestowed care on them, I will bestow punishment on you for the evil you have done,” declares the Lord. 3 “I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and will bring them back to their pasture, where they will be fruitful and increase in number. 4 I will place shepherds over them who will tend them, and they will no longer be afraid or terrified, nor will any be missing,” declares the Lord.

Anonymous said...

Wow! I'm new to this blog. I must say that I'm deeply disappointed that some believers use the internet to tear down other believers. Although I doubt the lost will ever read this blog, this type of commentary is hurting the church. Please read matt. 18 or Galatians 6 about handling personal disputes. I'm wondering if we spend as much time reading the word and serving others as we do reading these blogs. We must be salt and light and make a difference for Jesus.