“I guess the worst day I have had was when I had to stand up in rehab in front of my wife and daughter and say ‘Hi, my name is Sam and I am an addict.'” ― Samuel L. Jackson link
This post will feature a number of comments from TWW readers.
The ill advised, naive petition to reinstate Perry Noble
Charisma News published Despite Addiction Confessions, Church Members Petition to Get Perry Noble Back.
The petition had gathered nearly 600 signatures and attracted more than 250 comments before it was abruptly shut down perhaps due to an appeal on Facebook from Noble himself on Wednesday that if his supporters love him, they will continue supporting NewSpring.
For those of you that know on July 10, 2016 it was announced that founder and senior pastor of Newspring Church in South Carolina, Perry Noble, was removed from his position of senior pastor due to claims of alcohol abuse and other issues.
This petition was started to show Pastor P that we, as church members, friends, family, and others are standing with and praying for him in this difficult time. We all love him and want him to get the help he needs.
Let it also be known that once Perry Noble has conquered this storm, with God's amazing grace, we want to see him reinstated as senior pastor. No one is perfect. We are all sinners in need of God's forgiveness. Perry needs our support and our prayers. All things are possible though Christ Jesus. If you have taken the time to sign this petition thank you and God bless.
Let's make Perry Noble great again!
Here are two comments from the petition before it was shut down.
What are the problems with this petition?
Let me tell you a true story of a gifted physician. He was a chief resident in a well known hospital and was considered one of the finest who ever filled the position. He was eventually caught stealing narcotics from the pharmacy and using them to self medicate.The medical licensure board stepped in and sent him to an inpatient rehabilitation center. If he completed the program and agreed to be tested for drugs for a number of years, his license would be reinstated. Note: he was given grace but he was also told he would be tested to verify his compliance.
He was hired by a well known group of doctors shortly after discharge from rehab. I remember thinking it was a bit too soon for that. Well, I was correct. Five months later, in an unannounced test (they never told him when they would do these tests), he was found to have drugs in his system. He lost his license and his family. Last we heard, he was working in a Home Depot.
Perry Noble was given warnings about his behavior and he did nothing until they finally fired him. The Baptist Message posted Perry Noble fired from NewSpring Church after refusing to take ‘corrective’ steps related to alcohol abuse.
“Over the course of several months our executive pastors met with and discussed at length with Perry these concerns regarding his personal behavior and his spiritual walk, Perry’s posture towards marriage, increased reliance on alcohol and other behaviors were of continual concern. Due to this the executive pastors confronted Perry and went through the steps of dealing with sin in the church as outlined in Matthew 18,” said Duffey.
“Because Perry chose not to address these ongoing issues and didn’t take the necessary steps toward correcting them, he is no longer qualified as outlined in I Timothy 3 and the church’s bylaws to continue as pastor of the NewSpring Church.
Perry Noble refused, over a prolonged period of time, to do the right thing. He knew he was in trouble and he chose to continue in his abuse of alcohol while creating problems in his marriage. This does not bode well for the future. Noble will need to be in rehab for al long period of time. Then he will need to be in a supportive, transparent group like Alcoholics Anonymous until his barriers are finally broken down.
A stay in rehab isn't a cure for alcoholism. It is the beginning of the road to recovery. Noble has no business being in the pulpit for the foreseeable future. If, and when, he does return to the pulpit, he should be tested (surprise visits without notification) for drug and alcohol usage for a prolonged period. I know these folks are upset that they lost their pastor. However, are thinking about themselves or are they thinking about what is best for Noble?
Quick aside: Noble built a church which had @30,000 members and lots of money. My guess is that the SBC leaders will find way to get him back in the pulpit.
Dan, a TWW reader, has this to say.
Grace for an addicted person can easily turn into enabling that person to continue in his or her destructive behaviors. Sometimes the most grace-filled response to an addicted person is to allow them to fall and sometimes that fall. This can be very hard and very painful for both the addicted person and the people who really care about the addicted person (and not their own or someone else’s reputation.)
TWW reader, "siteseer," wondered if these folks are fans more than disciples.
Yes, the followers do hold responsibility for their part in raising up human leaders above what God intends and for lack of discernment and wisdom. They are fans more than disciples.
Elizabeth Lee wondered at the "Make Perry Great again" statement. Is this the goal of our churches? To make our pastors *great?*
Wow. That petition is something else. It says, “Let’s make Perry Noble great again!”
For some reason it has been closed. I wonder if the person who started it was given more information about what happened behind the scenes.
That’s the problem with the lack of transparency. The average pew-sitter had no idea about the destruction going on. When PN’s firing was announced they didn’t go into enough detail. They were still covering up for him, and now many people are assuming it was unjust.
At SBC voices,the inevitable alcohol debate has ensued.
Full disclosure: I love to drink the occasional glass of wine but I am not an alcoholic. An alcoholic craves alcohol as much as we crave food when we haven't eaten all day. They cannot stop at one glass. An alcoholic must abstain from alcohol for the rest of their lives. Such a commitment is difficult. William Thornton wrote Alcohol is still a deal breaker in SBC life.
I get that and see it in folks around me who are my kid’s generation. A little beer or wine isn’t taboo to them as it has been to me, both pre- and post-entering the ministry.
Lest we err here, we should be clear to pastors, staff, seminarians, potential seminarians and church staff, planters, missions personnel and the like that use of alcohol in SBC life might be cool, relaxing, and modern but it will not advance one’s ministry and may likely end it.
1. North American Mission Board church planter code of conduct:
I will abstain from consumption of any alcoholic beverage.
2. From the International Mission Board Field Personnel Manual, as paraphrased by David Platt:
…the Field Personnel Manual requires all missionaries to abstain from alcohol following their appointment.
3. From the Southeastern seminary covenant (and I assume the other five seminaries have identical or similar covenants):
Either on or off campus and while classes are both in and out of session, I will not possess or use alcoholic beverages.
I personally have no trouble with pastors having a glass of wine or beer. If one signs a pledge not to drink, one should stick to it or find a different group. I believe that some church planters for the NAMB imbibe in spite of the pledge. My guess is that so long as they are successful, it will be overlooked.
I do not believe the Bible prevents drinking in moderation so I find this argument rather dull. However, as readers know, I love to discuss creationism. I lean towards theistic evolution and often find some of the Young Earth arguments amusing. Here are two comments at SBC Voices that made me chuckle.
No fermentation before the Fall
Steven Furtick praises Perry Noble after his firing.
As some of you may be aware, Perry Noble sits on Steven Furtick's compensation committee which secretly decides what sort of salary that Furtick receives. Since Furtick lives in one of the largest homes in North Carolina (16,000 sq ft.) I would venture to guess that Steven is quite pleased with Perry's efforts on his behalf.
The Christian Post published Steven Furtick Praises Perry Noble After NewSpring Firing.
Furtick does exactly what a number of these celebrity pastors do, he ignores those abused by Perry Noble's alcohol addiction-his wife and daughter. He also doesn't mention the pain this caused a number of the NewSpring members.
My guess is that Furtick keeps Noble on his committee. Furtick is living quite well with the input of Noble. Why give that up for a little substance abuse problem? Besides, Furtick doesn't have to live with him.
Ed Stetzer: Keep quiet and pray.
Stetzer, in in his blog at Christianity Today, wrote Alcohol Abuse, Perry Noble, and the Church's Response—What Now?.
At least Stetzer asked that folks pray for Noble's family as well as for the church. Good for him. But I absolutely disagree with him on overlooking the number of times that Perry Noble was involved in some awful incidents like the American Airlines Twitter mess and the treatment of Dr James Duncan. These actions could have pointed to his current situation. We should be paying attention.
Stetzer is naive. He trusts what Noble said to him. If Noble had not entered rehab by the time they talked, nothing Noble says can be trusted. Noble has lived a life of deception and it will be a long time before anyone should accept one word that he says. Then again, Noble built a big church with lots of money and that is something that impresses men like Stetzer.
I believe it is time to speculate and to figure out how this mess happened. Perry Noble marketed himself to people like me. He was not some quiet, humble country pastor who deserves his privacy. You play in public, you pay in public. And I am the public.
I get that Perry’s approach to ministry has—at times—been a lightning rod, and I’ve discussed that with him, but this is not the time for such comments or speculation.
His church and his pastors will sort out the details, and we should trust the Lord in His guidance of that process. They don’t need any of us being armchair pastors, speculating on how we think this happened or what we think they should do.
We have one role right now as fellow Christians, and for many of us, as fellow pastors. That role is to pray.
Please join me in praying for Perry, Lucretia, their children, and NewSpring—let that be your focus.
(Quick update: since posting this article, Perry and I have talked and he is getting help from a psychiatrist and is taking steps to address his alcohol dependence.)
Humility and accountability are just as important as prayers
TWW reader, Dragon Lady, a self professed alcoholic, had this to say.
As an alcoholic who married another alcoholic, I can say that the last thing Perry Noble needs is to be kept from the consequences of his actions. Alcoholism is a disease, yes, but while our alcoholism explains our insane (and abusive) behavior, it does not excuse it.
I was a high-functioning alcoholic, and I kept my drinking well hidden for many years. I did my active damage to others when I wasn’t drinking – what we call a “dry drunk” – but did a lot of passive damage while drunk through neglect and indifference. Either way I was doing damage to everyone around me until I got into the right 12 step program. (I half-assed Al-Anon for about 6 months before a close friend told me I needed to stop drinking for a while, and I realized I couldn’t, and started going to AA.)
I would suggest that people who have been harmed by Perry Noble who can’t afford counseling, to seek out an Al-Anon group. Al-Anon is for family and friends of alcoholics. It makes a huge difference to talk to and listen to people who understand what it’s like to live/work with an alcoholic and all the insanity that goes with it.
Yes, Perry Noble needs our prayers, but he needs humility and accountability every bit as much. Otherwise, the cycle of addiction will just keep repeating itself, and he will continue to wreak havoc on everyone around him – family, friends, staff, and congregants.
Perry Noble takes to video
WYFF reported Former NewSpring pastor posts video message on Facebook. You can watch this ill advised video at this link. At this point, Noble should have been silent but it appears he cannot be away from the limelight.
TWW reader, "Friend," had this to say
He said something like, If you love me, keep going to NewSpring.
I would have been more impressed to hear him say, “If you love God, and if you find that God feeds you at NewSpring, please keep going to NewSpring. I don’t want to cause further turmoil and new divisions; please don’t leave NewSpring on my account. And please don’t worry about me. I have ample help from God and the people around me.”
There are gifted people in the pulpit who should not be there.
Just because someone has charisma and can bring in the people does not mean they should be pastors. Here is a great comment by TWW reader, Max.
The church really needs to wake up to the fact that we have some preachers in the pulpit that don’t need to be there! We have mistaken the gift of gab and charismatic persona for a calling from God in far too many places. We have brought the gimmicks of the world into the church to draw a crowd, and the church is falling for it due to a lack of spiritual discernment.
When you can get thousands to follow potty-mouth preachers, the church is in desperate need for a new measure of discernment in the ranks. Deception was already at work in first century church, causing John to warn “do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, to see whether they are from God.” We need to be just as diligent – if not more so – in 21st century church.
"Nancy 2" chimed in on this comment
Hmmmmm …… If you can’t be a rock star, be a preacher.
Alcoholics leave destruction in their wake and so many leaders seem to be avoiding this.
"Muff Potter," a long time dear reader of TWW, knows of what he speaks. He is one of the most humble men that I know.
I know exactly where you’re coming from and of what you speak. I can say that cuz’ I’m an old drunk who with the help of his higher power, has not had a drink for 20 years.
I’m intimately acquainted with the human wreckage even a functioning alcoholic leaves in his or her wake. It’s as toxic as the dead-lands of Chernobyl and I’ve left plenty. It’s half-life never really goes away.
"Niteowl" left a heartbreaking comment on emotional abuse by an alcoholic father.
I grew up with an alcoholic father and it is hell on a family even without physical abuse. We were continually. Verbally and emotionally abused. He was able to keep up appearances outside the home and at work and was a respected member of the community. My mother was advised by other Christians to submit and he’d change. Total BS and she finally left him a few years after we kids were out of the house. After she left he went through rehab a few times in an effort to get her back.and died a few years later. Neither I nor my siblings miss him. Mr Perry needs to stay out of the pulpit and receive proper medical treatment. The absence of alcohol will not solve the problem. Many alcoholics turn into dry drunks with the drunken behavior exhibited while stone cold sober.
"Mirele" recounts having never met her alcoholic grandfather.
I’m just going to say that I lived for nearly 13 years of my life within 25 miles of my maternal grandfather and I never met the man. My mother moved out of his house the day she turned 18 (and she had six months of school left). He was a mean alcoholic. Ironically, after he died (when I was 22), my mother resumed her relationship with her stepmother. So yes, alcoholism can be very destructive to a family relationship.
"Waking up" addressed god-like adoration in spite of the abuse.
Reading about the outcome of Noble’s alcoholism within his ministry, I’m sick. I’m sick because my dad is an alcoholic as well as one of my siblings. The support for these addicts with ignorance of those who hold them in such mini-god like adoration is deep and unending. They live their lives as if they are in an unending movie and are the star. Noble seems to want to be adored as a star and even the drama of the unveiling of his addiction, has his responses scripted and rehearsed to shine the light on his abilities to “deal with it.” I don’t see any claims of how broken and weak he is nor of the damage he has caused. What I see by his statements are the classic deflections…”I got this…I’ve already taken steps to correct my problem and I’m good. My wife has managed to keep herself sexually pure through all of this, so I’m really proud of her. Again, I got this.”
"Nancy 2" recounted two different types of alcoholics in her family.
My FIL was an alcoholic. But, he was a “happy drunk”. He wouldn’t drive when he was drinking, and he was able to work. He was a great Uto mechanic, and ran his own small garage business next door to their home. The only damage his drinking did was financial.
One of his sons, my BIL, is a completely different story. He will clean himself up, begin to gain ground with his finances, his reputation, and his personal relationships — he’ll think, “I’ve got this!”, and then he will go back to drinking. He’ll cover it up for a while and talk about how great everything is. But, it always comes out.
His drinking has destroyed 3 marriages (no adultery or domestic abuse involved in any of them), and he has lost 2 homes because of it. He’s lost multiple jobs. He’s had his driver’s license revoked a couple of times, done a few stints in jail, and his only child will have nothing to do with him. He has alienated his 2 sisters and 3 brothers. His family – my husband included – will have nothing to do with him. His entire life has been a cycle of shampoo, rinse, repeat.
Jeff T discussed the problems with excuses.
Having two immediate family members and several extended family members who are alcoholics, I have learned one thing: the second they bring up anything as excuses or factors that led to their alcoholism you know right away they are doomed to recovery failure. Until they admit to themselves and others that they are simply powerless over alcohol without qualification, they will not succeed. It seems clear that Perry Noble is not there yet.
"Persephone" discussed the types of abuse.
Dee, thank you for pointing out that there absolutely was domestic abuse, just because of PN’s alcohol abuse. I wish more people understood this.
Addicts are fabulous at gaslighting, misdirection, and blame shifting. Every abused woman* everywhere knows what it’s like to feel crazy half the time; what many don’t know is that’s his intention – if you’re continually off-balance, it’s much easier for him to hide and indulge his addiction.
I wish more people understood that there doesn’t have to be physical violence, or even screaming fits, name-calling, or rage attacks for there to be real, spirit-crushing domestic abuse. Anything he does in an attempt to control her on an ongoing basis is abuse. That can be financial, emotional, spiritual, etc.
Where there’s addiction there will always be abuse. The reverse isn’t the case. Whenever there is abuse, the victim needs her own support system, trained in working with domestic abuse. She needs time and space apart form him while he decides whether he’s willing to quit making excuses, blaming others, minimizing, and flat-out lying about himself and his problem(s), and actively works on it for long enough to show true repentance. At least a year, IMO.
*this is the disclaimer that yes, gender can be the other way around, but usually isn’t
"Persephone" also added this about how an alcoholic makes up excuses to his family.
Oh my gosh, does this sound like my ex-husband! He rarely apologized sincerely for anything. But whenever something big came down, a quick “I’m sorry” and my kids and I were all supposed to forgive and forget, instantly. After all, he’d apologized, and Jesus instructs us to forgive.
It got so bad towards the end that at one point, after I’d figured out that he was driving drunk with the kids, he sat us all down for a very important family meeting, where he intended to come clean. He made lots of preemptive noises once we were all assembled, then came out with,
“I’ve been so stressed out and busy with work and all that I’ve become addicted…to nicotine gum!”
He then went on to explain that he’d gotten into the bad habit of drinking alcohol in order to be able to sleep, since the nicotine gum left him feeling wired.
It was all I could do not to let my jaw drop to the floor. When he shooed the kids out to the car for me to take them on an errand, he held me back and burst into ragey tears because I was so cold and hard-hearted. I guess he could tell I didn’t believe him.
Whenever someone insists on quick forgiveness, I go on red alert now.
"Kemi" shared that her mother was told by church folks not to leave her alcoholic father,
I’m so sorry. My mom refused to leave because of misguided advice from people at church too. She was a rule follower and a people pleaser which played perfectly to my father’s abuse. Finally, when I was in college my father got a great idea to punish my mom and change the locks on our house and left her clothes on the porch. I think he wanted to embarrass her and have the pleasure of watching her desperate to get back where in my younger sister was. Praise God a wise elderly couple from the church took her in, refused to let her go back, and helped her find a divorce lawyer.
The church has got to do better at helping families in abusive situations!! Women and children would get more attention on a sinking ship from many Christian men, than they would for life or death abuse in their own homes.
I hope these comments by readers of TWW will help Christian leaders who seem to overlook the many people who are harmed by alcohol abusers in the pulpit.
Special thanks to all of our dear readers who share with us day in and out. The following video is for those who were hurt by alcoholism in their families.