Psalm 82:3 (GW) Defend weak people and orphans. Protect the rights of the oppressed and the poor.
Isaiah 1:17 (ESV) Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause.
Ephesians 5:11 (NIV) Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them.
Watchdog readers already know about my passion for exposing any preacher that I sincerely believe is a charlatan that is taking advantage of gullible people that love Jesus and desire to serve him. The biggest hammer these charlatans wield is the notion that they are speaking for God, and that you must believe all of the Bible or none of it. The second major hammer they use to keep the gullible sheep in line is the teaching that unless you were personally harmed or offended by the pastor’s words and actions, then you are sinning by exposing these words and actions; or even coming to the aid of others (ie: "taking up offenses") who you perceive to be hurt by the charlatans’ abusive teachings and practices.
So what does the Bible have to say about “taking up offenses?”
Notice the three Bible verses above. Do you strive to live out those verses? Specifically, do you “learn” to do good? (By learning, I mean do you truly keep an open mind and seek to correct your past, long held beliefs, or are you merely dogmatic about everything you believe with no willingness to consider what the bible actually says or other viewpoints?) Do you “Seek” justice? (By seeking, I mean going outside the same identical sources of information as to the facts and reality of a situation to consider other viewpoints?) What about “correcting” oppression? Have you ever made any effort to correct an oppressor? (By correct, I mean have the backbone/courage, the level of concern, the willingness to incur pain and harm to you and your family, by simply trying to get the oppressor to see their actions and change some of those hurtful ways?) Do you plead the cause of others? (By plead the cause of, I mean actually speak for, and on behalf of others, who otherwise might not have anyone else to do this.) Do you, or have you, ever “protected the rights of the oppressed?” If you answered yes to any of the above questions, and I hope you did, then you have “taken up offenses” for others. And the Bible commands you to do this. Well done!
And what about Ephesians 5:11? The verses above are what this blog has been all about, when you really stop and think about it. It is not enough to merely not participate in wrongdoing, but the Bible commands us to do more. It requires us to expose them. Which might in fact require us to plead the cause of others and expose a charlatan's activities. So when others say "if you don't like it leave!", or "why don't you just go someplace else if you are unhappy with the preacher", your conscience and conviction and commitment to Christ won't allow you to do this.
Before we go any further, stop reading and take some time to research what the bible says about “taking up offenses.” Did you find it? No, it's not in there in the Old or New Testament is it? You tell people you read the bible, that you study it, that you believe 100% of it, and that you follow the bible’s teachings don’t you? So aren’t you embarrassed that the Bible does not say we should not take up offenses. So, where did that teaching come from if not from the word of God? Unfortunately, it came from the word of a man. Bill Gotthard, in an attempt to silence those that were becoming more aware of, and concerned about, his inappropriate sexual activities, began teaching this "doctrine." (Gotthard’s scandals date back to the early 1970’s and continue all the way up to this past year. They are not the point of this blog post, but for those that are indeed interested in “seeking” and “learning”, please click here: http://www.recoveringgrace.org/2014/02/silencing-the-lambs-taking-up-offenses/
I want to try and keep this blog post simple. Many people that have read this blog over the past several years were highly offended by the author’s criticism of various pastors, including the initial focus on one certain pastor. His name is not important, because this blog is no longer about him or all that he did, and hasn’t been for several years. More importantly, he is merely one of hundreds of such pastors and their congregations that this blog will discuss, so why single him and his congregation out? Nevertheless, these pastors have followers that defend them vigorously and vocally and aggressively and even warn of impending death and destruction in a variety of forms to the blogger and even to those that agree with him.
Now let’s talk about you! Did you feel offended by this blog’s content? If so, you took up offenses. Remember, this blog was not about you. It was not about “the church.” It was not about Jesus. It was not about God. It was not even about the Bible. The author never questioned Jesus or his teachings. It never criticized the true church of God. It never questioned the reliability of the scriptures. So admit it. If you read this blog and were upset over it, you were taking up offenses, and still are doing so if you have held on to those feelings for these past several years. And worse, if you spread that resentment, disdain, concern, or other negative feelings about the author to other people that supported, and still support, this blog and its author, then you are hurting those people (and yourself and your family) by taking up offenses.
Remember, many of you told the author he would get laughed out of court. That he may die of a heart attack. That God would get ahold of him in a variety of ways. That he owed the pastor an apology. How ironic then, wasn’t it, when the blogger won BOTH lawsuits (one against the pastor/church and another against the Sheriff’s office) and presumedly was paid undisclosed sums of money by representatives of the pastor, his church, and the Sheriff’s office. But nothing was more telling and definitive about who was on the right side of this issue then when all those people had to hear their beloved “man of God” apologize to the author. Hello? The author didn’t apologize in the long run. And never will. It was the “holy man of God” that had to stand behind that pulpit in front of the world and apologize. National TV, local TV, and internationally via internet streaming.
But let’s be honest, that didn’t change your mind did it? The author and his few supporters were vindicated. Or at least they thought. Have you apologized to the author? Or to his supporters against whom you have held years of resentment, disdain and contempt? Will you? It may save you and your own family much pain if you do so.
Let me leave you with this thought. How much stronger would your points about the author and his supporters be if the author of the blog lost both lawsuits, had to pay large amounts of money to the pastor and his church, and then had to publicly apologize for what he had written? What would you be saying about the author then? Answer: You would say that God showed up. That justice was done. That God’s man was vindicated. And that the blogger was exposed and given justice. And that he should repent and apologize. And that his followers were mislead and deceived and they also should repent and apologize. So…, can’t I say the same things about the author now? And shouldn’t you agree? And if not, can I tell you not to take up offenses? Let’s all “seek” and “learn” and “protect” and “defend” as scripture commands us! Maybe you are not called to “expose” wayward preachers as Ephesians 5:11 commands us to do. Maybe you don’t believe that verse. Maybe you don’t believe it applies to you. Maybe you believe it but don’t have the courage or ability to live it out. That’s fine. I understand. I thank God that the author was able to do it for us. And everyone that stood with him should consider it a privilege to have supported him and encouraged him during the years of persecution he faced from his church, his pastor, the staff, the state attorney’s office, the sheriff’s office, and most importantly, from his own family. Shame on us when we don’t live out these verses. Shame on us when we criticize, ban, trespass, shun and hold in contempt those that do. Let us take up offenses, particularly those offenses caused by bully pastors and charlatans that misuse and twist the Holy Bible to manipulate and exploit God’s people. Your pastor is not the weak, the oppressed, or the poor. Those are the people that need your love, support and understanding in the face of persecution. Don't let your "holy man of God" manipulate you into taking up his offenses. And certainly, don't let him manipulate you into hurting those that took up the offenses of the author when his church, pastor, sheriff's office and state attorney's office came after him for merely asking some questions...and being persistent. And writing blog posts. It's okay.