Vindication of popular ministers

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How dare you speak of him that way! Do you know who he is? Do you know what he’s done for the Kingdom? Look at all the people he’s ministered to!

So goes the argument. It’s been stated before. It’ll be stated again. It recently reared its head in the blogosphere. But what argument is that?

The vindication of popular ministers!

Take any controversy of any popular person in ministry and find what some of their defenders say. They will argue for innocence based on the popularity or “success” of a person or ministry. Some will argue for innocence regardless of the evidence. It is true that God blesses certain people in ministry with more “success” than others.

Imagine for a moment if today someone described the person who lead them to Christ the way Spurgeon described that very person in his life.

At last, a very thin-looking man, a shoemaker, or tailor, or something of that sort, went up into the pulpit to preach. Now, it is well that preachers should be instructed; but this man was really stupid. He was obliged to stick to his text, for the simple reason that he had little else to say. The text was,—

“Look Unto Me, And Be Ye Saved, All The Ends Of The Earth.”

He did not even pronounce the words rightly, but that did not matter. There was, I thought, a glimpse of hope for me in that text.1

Now imagine if the person described was one of the popular, “celebrity” Christian speakers. It’s probably not the best example to use to describe someone. If I where described like that I probably wouldn’t like it much. However, what this really speaks of is that despite the lack of education or speaking skills God saved Spurgeon through this man preaching the Bible.  It shows God’s work through a person the world might call inept.

That’s really the point, isn’t it? It is God’s work!

Good men fall and it shouldn’t surprise us because…well…there really aren’t any good men. We are all sinners. It does not matter how many people you get to preach to, how wide your audience, how large or small your congregation, your theological convictions, baptisms performed, confessions of faith gotten, denominational affiliation, how traditional or hip, etc. or what your name is because sin can infiltrate all of these areas!

No one is immune to sin. In fact, we are all hosts carrying sin around with us where ever we go.

It seems we all must be careful in defending someone for their namesake instead of for Christ’s namesake. Men fall. This can be read all throughout the Bible. It can be seen throughout the past and in the present. When favored preachers are defended without question it may be doing them more harm than good if they are in unrepentant sin, preaching false doctrine, giving false teachers a pass, etc.

It can be difficult to objectively address the sin of people we respect or have some sort of relationship with. In the same manner it can be difficult to objectively address our own sin. We find excuses to let our own sin go. We may ignore our own sin by pointing to someone else’s sin or actions we don’t like.

Someone may even sinfully point out our own sin, yet that does not give us a right to ignore personal repentance. Just as one popular minister does not get a pass on sin because another popular (or unpopular) minister points it out in a manner deemed unkind.

In other words, one sin does not excuse another regardless of who you are.

Of course, the greater the popularity the greater responsibility. The more someone promotes and markets themselves the more scrutiny they will come under. When someone seeks attention and is successful they will surely get both positive and negative reactions. People often get back a bit of what they dish out too.

The vindication of popular ministers who have have charges of sin against them is not found in their popularity nor various numerical successes. Their vindication is found, along with everyone else’s, only through repentance of sin and holding onto the gospel of Jesus Christ.

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  1. The Autobiography of Charles H. Spurgeon Vol I: 1834-1854, Page 105-106.
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tagged as in Church Issues,Culture,theology

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Chris May 11, 2010 at 4:23 pm

Mark,

Excellent post. I have actually been thinking of a post along these lines, albeit with a somewhat different focus.

2 Mark May 11, 2010 at 4:32 pm

Chris,

Thank you. I’m sure there are several angles a post on this topic could take. Let me know if you decide to write one.

3 Dan October 10, 2011 at 3:26 pm

This is really true, particularly in really big churches or really small churches. At least that’s how I see it. And to be fair, I tend to get defensive when my own actions are called to account. Guess this is something we all deal with. Maybe it’s why I’m not famous yet! Ha!

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