This post first appeared in the Christianity for Life blog
I send out a Daily Bible Verse to about 16,000 people every morning at 6:30 am in the recipient’s time zone.
Well, not me exactly – I use an automated service – it beats sitting up all day and night clicking send.
The email contains a KJV verse of the day, links to the Search The Bible website where the verse can be read in context and compared with other versions, a link to a daily reading that’ll take you through the Bible in one year, and a link to the Search The Bible contact form that allows folks to comment or ask questions. You can subscribe to the Daily Bible Verse here.
Many subscribers use the contact form to submit prayer requests, perhaps because they’re not comfortable with the more public Prayer Requests page. But occasionally I get a direct question such as the one received today from a subscriber named Reginald. Some questions are easy, some not so much.
Reginald’s not-so-easy question is, “Why is it so many Ministers get in trouble with the law. I know even God’s people make mistakes . But when you are “called” to minister, adultery, stealing, drug use, materialism and, Oh Yeah, lying… seems to be the norm. Whats going on?”
Well put Reginald. I imagine your question comes from an unpleasant first-hand experience or you’re just tired of hearing about church leaders gone astray. I don’t claim to know the answer to your question, but I can offer some thoughts, and perhaps my readers can add their opinions.
I see the problem as threefold. Firstly, anyone can become a “Minister”. I believe you can achieve ordination over the Internet without any training or qualification, henceforth call yourself “Pastor” and legally conduct marriage ceremonies etc. As well, there are many so-called Christian denominations in the world that have long ago lost sight of true Christianity. Alarmingly, these include some mainstream congregations that have devolved into good deed feel-good clubs. Group hugs of inclusiveness, inter-faith confusion and left-of-liberal philosophy, all in the name of Jesus. Its clear from their statements of faith that the leaders of these organizations cannot possibly be Christian in the true sense. They amend Bible interpretation to suit their own sociopolitical leanings and think nothing of supporting and promoting what God has clearly identified as sin. When these people fall, its no surprise, they were never “called” to begin with. Unfortunately, the world blames religion and, in particular, Christianity for the actions of these impostors.
Secondly, there’s money to be made in the religion business. Some televangelists can be so blatantly phony in their appeals for your finances. They give Christianity a bad name. They’re not all insincere, but sometimes its hard to tell who’s who. Nobody can point a finger at Billy Graham, but some of his contemporaries flamed out in a very public way, think Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart. What are we to make of these front-line Christians? Again, the world sees the bad apples as representatives of our faith, and sometimes that’s certainly the case. But the sincere players never make the news.
Thirdly, the Bible speaks frequently of false prophets in the context of the end-times. In Matthew 24:24 Jesus warns us, “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” And again in Matthew 7:15 Jesus says, “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” In 1 John 4:1-3 John warns us, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.”
So while its disturbing that time after time we see the ungodly passing themselves off as Christian leaders, its not entirely unexpected in the context of the world in which we live. Its a fallen world, and we must trust that God’s Kingdom will prevail as He has promised (See Finding the Kingdom of God and Living the Kingdom of God for more on that). And keep in mind, for every disgraced church leader, there are thousands of devout, hard-working servants of Christ leading His Church throughout the world. The media isn’t interested in them or their work.
Dear reader, if you have a question you’d like discussed here, just contact me using the Search The Bible contact form and mention this blog. I’ll do my best to give a humble opinion and invite comment.
Reginald, thanks for the question, and keep the faith.
If you liked this article, you can support Steve's work with a small donation.