"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."
"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.
"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!"