“As long as you are proud you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on things and people: and, of course, as long as you are looking down you cannot see something that is above you.” ― C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity link
I am still doing some reading on Iain Campbell and his writings. I am also hearing from some folks in that part of the world who are giving me information and insight. I will get to it within a week.
However, I watched the following video and was disturbed by some responses of the speakers. I have embedded the video but here is the link to it as well in case TGC decides to remove it. The video lasts 7:15 minutes.
A pastor's authority trumps telling the truth.
Here is the subject dealt with by the video. By a teaching setting, they mean a small group gathering. This discussion takes place in the first few minutes of the video.
There appears to be some gospel™ teaching out there that aims to protect a pastor from correction, even when he is a blatantly wrong. A pastor's authority (whatever that means) appears more important than the truth. Even if he teaches heresy, one should not correct him because that means you are usurping his authority.
What is the definition of usurp? According to Merriam Webster Dictionary
…to seize or exercise authority or possession wrongfully
… to seize and hold (as office, place, or powers) in possession by force or without right
…to take or make use of without right
Apparently, if one corrects a pastor, one is attempting to seize his authority. Huh? There is no problem with correcting the rest of those in the group who are not pastors so long as it is done carefully and not harshly. But keep your mitts off the pastor. Why? Your guess is as good as mine.
Who are the women who are discussing this situation?
They are Trillia Newbell, Blair Linne, and Rosaria Butterfield. Under the video, there is this synopsis.
Trillia Newbell, Blair Linne, and Rosaria Butterfield discuss what to do when you’re in a small group setting and someone says something inaccurate or unhelpful. Linne (wife, mother, actress, and spoken word artist) encourages us to consider a number of issues before we respond: Who said it? What did they say? Who heard it? Butterfield (author of Openness Unhindered) reminds us of the importance of truth and that we’re called to be salt and light in a world that desperately needs Christians to speak up. Newbell (director of community outreach for the ERLC and author of Enjoy) talks about the need, especially for women, to be bold in confronting false teaching.
No matter your setting, this video (or audio here) will encourage you to speak the truth in love when someone needs to hear it.
They are proposing a hierarchical system: pastors should not by corrected but apparently everyone else can be.
Trillia Newbell, who posed the question at the top of this post, answered it by saying that one must assess who is spreading this false teaching, heresy, or teaching that is *unhelpful* (whatever that means.) She specifically says that if that person is a pastor, he should be respected and one should not usurp his authority by correcting him if he is teaching heresy, etc. Blair Linne appears to agree with her.
A story on correcting a pastor
Years ago, a pastor I knew sent out an email stating that the business leaders of Proctor and Gamble donated money to the Church of Satan. You can read about it here. I immediately corrected him, rather strongly, and told him he would get sued by P&G if they found out that he was propagating this myth. That was happening as you will see here. I even reminded him that, as Christians, we follow the one who is the truth and we must be sure that we are teeing the truth.
This was a good guy. He apologized to me and immediately sent out follow up emails saying he was mistaken and was glad that a church member corrected him. A pastor has no more authority than I do when it comes to the truth and if he is seriously wrong, he must be corrected.
Rosaria Butterfield believes in bold and open confrontation outside of a small group.
She strongly promotes correcting people boldly (not pastors). She believes that we should not be concerned about offending others so long as we use the Scriptures in our response.
She uses the following example. A woman sitting next to her on a plane said to her, "I don't know what to think about the bathroom bill." According to Wikipedia
A bathroom bill is the common name for legislation or a statute that defines access to public facilities – specifically restrooms – by transgender individuals. Bathroom bills affect access to sex-segregated public facilities for an individual based on a determination of their sex as defined in some specific way – such as their sex as assigned at birth, their sex as listed on their birth certificate, or the sex that corresponds to their gender identity. A bathroom bill can either be inclusive or exclusive of transgender individuals, depending on the aforementioned definition of their sex.
Rosaria answered her by stating that Genesis stated that there are two genders by referencing Genesis 1:27.
So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. (NIV, Bible Gateway)
In Rosaria's mind, this is the correct and Biblical way to answer he question with boldness. Case closed.
What I think Rosaria forgot in her gospel™ witness on the airplane.
Let's assume I was asked this question. This is a difficult question that can raise the hackles of folks on all sides of the issue. My first thoughts would be very different than Rosaria's.
- "I wonder why she is asking me this question?"
- "Why is she taking a risk to ask this of a complete stranger, knowing it can cause serious disagreements?"
- "Has she had a personal experience with this issue that is weighing on her?"
My guess is that this woman has had difficulties in her own life in regards to this issue.. The fact she is willing to ask it of a complete stranger may indicate that she is really hurting inside and that this issue is most likely personal to her.
- Perhaps she was molested in a public setting as a child and is beginning to deal with her fears.
- She may be dealing with a transgendered relative or friend or has struggled herself.
- Maybe she had a fight with her teenage daughter who disagreed with her approach on the matter and is beginning to rethink her responses.
- She may not be a Christian, like my mother, and would shut down if a Bible verse got thrown at her.
I am sure you can think of many other possibilities. After praying for a kind and thoughtful way to respond to her, I would ask her, quite simply, "This is a subject that has caused much dissension and hurt in families and friends. Have you seen this with people you know?
As Christians, we are called to go beyond the simple and easy responses and look inside the life of this dear person. We need to dig deeper and not take things at face value. Many times, people begin to reach out to others by asking such questions.
A story on going beyond the correct™ Bible verse
Let me tell you what happened when I dug deeper this weekend. Deb knows the family to whom I am referring but I have changed some details in order to protect their privacy. I have been long time friends with some families whose children I tutored through a church program. I am often asked to celebrations, etc. and I go. They have been to my house as well. So, this weekend was another one of those celebrations.
I have always admired one of these families because they have overcome terrible hardships to get where they are. One of the fathers asked me what sort of missions I was now involved in. I decided to tell him about the blog and when I mentioned that I am particularly concerned about the church covering up child sex abuse, this man, in his 50s, began to cry. He was sexually abuse for many years as a young boy and has physical problems, to this day, from what happened. He expressed that he still feels shame even thought he knows it wasn't his fault.
We talked for a long time, during which he continued to cry. His wife joined in as I comforted him. I made him smile when I told him to tell the 5 year old boy inside of him that he is a hero. He survived, even though he has struggled. he has kept his family together in the face of difficult circumstances. There is much more but I need to protect him and his family. Needless to say, I was quite shaken but grateful that I had enough background so that I could bring some comfort to his wife and him. 50 years after the abuse, he began to open up to an outsider. Always think about that when someone asks you a question out of the blue. What are they really asking?
Whether it is heresy or concealing child sex abuse in the church, I believe that we should not treat pastors any differently than the average church attendee. So, the question I would ask myself is this. Is the pastor wrong? If so, talk to him and correct him in the same sensitive manner you would use for an church member.
We need to love the people we meet and stop treating them in a superficial manner. This following two quote by CS Lewis are my life quotes on how I should view and treat the people I meet. I read it often to remind myself to never be flippant. Both of the quotes are from The Weight of Glory. Please know that this is how I view all of you-far more than mere mortals!
(1)“There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously – no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption.”
(2) It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which,if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree helping each other to one or the other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all of our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.”