Ethics: a Pastor Secretly Records Conversation with Another Pastor

What would you do Wednesday!

The following scenario is inspired by actual events as told by Peter Lumpkins.1 Please note that inspired by does not mean an exact, actual portrayal of said events. Rather, the scenario is loosely based on the actual event.



Pastor Friend calls you and tells you about an interesting conversation he just had with Pastor Blogger. Pastors Friend and Blogger just happened to be eating lunch in the same restaurant so Friend approached Blogger to challenge him on his approach to blogging.

A conversation ensued.

Friend tells you that the tone of the conversation changed as he gently challenged Blogger’s content pointing out his divisiveness. Blogger denied the charge and took offense to Friend’s challenge. Friend tells you that Blogger became slightly animated and threw out an ad hominem.

The conversation ended with Pastor Friend telling you that he recorded all of his conversation with Pastor Blogger. He told Blogger that he recorded it after the fact.

Pastor Blogger said he did not care that Friend recorded him and went home and put up a somewhat mocking blog post about the incident.

What would you say to these pastors as either a friend or your own pastor?

  • Nothing – let them sort it out.
  • Rebuke Friend for recording it.
  • Rebuke Blogger for his words and actions.
  • Rebuke them both.
  • Tell them to have a Holy Kiss and make up.
  • Or…
  1. Peter Lumpkins. EXCLUSIVE! Peter Lumpkins caught on tape…
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tagged as , in Christianity,Church Issues,Culture

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

1 mburatov September 26, 2012 at 11:38 am

I would say rebuke them both. This was a private conversation. If your yes means yes and your no means no, then why do you need to record it? Pastor Friend was trying to confront Pastor Blogger in response to his responsibility as laid out in Matthew 18. Pastor Blogger should be rebuke for his lack of teachability, insensitivity, inability to listen, and harshness. Pastor Friend should be rebuked for recording the conversation without Pastor Blogger’s prior approval. Now that Pastor Blogger did not listen to him, he gets to do this again with another brother whom he implicitly trusts. However, instead of doing that, he told many other people that he had Pastor Blogger on tape. According to the Scriptures, we are to widen the circle gradually, not suddenly in order the give the brother multiple chances to repent. 2 Thessalonians 3:16-15 says, “Take special note of anyone who does not obey our instruction in this letter. Do not associate with them in order that they may feel ashamed. Yet do not regard them as an enemy but warn them as you would a fellow believer.” We are to give them multiple chances. Pastor Friend did not do that and should be rebuked.

2 CMCole September 26, 2012 at 11:47 am

wondering why a private conversation between two others should have been shared with anyone. Whether Pastor is your friend or not, is it not verging on gossip for him to have called you and relayed the conversation to you – whether he recorded it or not? What was he hoping to achieve by (a) recording it; and (b) telling the P.B. AND you about the action?

3 David (NAS) Rogers September 26, 2012 at 12:07 pm

Tell them to have a Holy Kiss and make up.

I like this option.

4 rhology September 26, 2012 at 12:55 pm

What was he hoping to achieve by (a) recording it; and (b) telling the P.B. AND you about the action?

Maybe b/c he truly wanted to get on tape what he’s known all along – the blogger is a false brother and an evil wolf.
**IF** this is true about the blogger, so much the better that he’s been exposed.

I don’t have a lot of patience for people complaining about being recorded. What you say in private you should be willing to say in public, excluding confidential info, intimate details, etc.

5 rhology September 26, 2012 at 12:55 pm

Oh, and:
**IF** this is true about the blogger

And it is true about the blogger in question.

6 Cathy M. September 26, 2012 at 12:59 pm

Neither “devious” nor “sneaky” are fruits of the spirit. Shame on ANYONE for secretly recording a private conversion; more so a pastor. I’m appalled by the very notion! Rebuke the pastor-friend, and NEVER trust him again. He’s thrown away all trustworthiness and credibility.

7 David (NAS) Rogers September 26, 2012 at 1:26 pm

The blogger in question is publicly known. The charge made against the blogger (he’s “a false brother and an evil wolf”) has been made by someone hiding behind anonymity. How about revealing in public the “confedential info” of your name.

8 Chris Roberts September 26, 2012 at 1:47 pm

He was recording a conversation with someone known for dirty tricks. I can understand wanting to have a recording which allows him to have proof of what is actually said in case Peter chooses to misrepresent him at some point. Peter himself has been an advocate of using “insider” information in other situations, giving his own approval to practices of this sort.

9 timguthrie September 26, 2012 at 2:38 pm

Right is right and wrong is wrong. Secretly recording the conversation is wrong regardless of anything else – period! Chris, situational ethics does not make for ethics!

10 Howell Scott September 26, 2012 at 2:41 pm

Quite frankly, let them sort it out. But, if someone has such a level of immaturity as to approach someone who was with their family in a restaurant, under the guise of having a “brother-to-brother” conversation, but secretly taping the conversation in an attempt at a gotcha moment, then I would not trust this person as far as I could throw them (which would not be far). It is already obvious from how the question has been framed and how some have responded that the ethics of the situation is dependent upon one’s opinion of Peter as opposed to how one views the ethics of what this other pastor did. Regardless of our differences with one another on certain issues, I would say what the pastor did in secretly taping the conversation was unethical. I would tend to agree with Cathy M. that this scenario would highly damage the trustworthiness and credibility of the pastor who secretly recorded the conversation. Thanks and God bless,


11 Jared Moore September 26, 2012 at 9:01 pm

I don’t think the pastor should have privately recorded the conversation; but, I also don’t think the blogger should have written publicly about their private conversation and the pastor’s private sin (the blogger argued the pastor sinned). The blogger has no credibility either due to publicly speaking about a private conversation. The blogger also shared information from a private email with the pastor. Neither acts were ethical: the pastor’s private recording and the blogger publicly speaking of private sin and content from the private email. The difference in this situation is that the pastor has repented (according to the blogger), but the blogger has not. He’s still publicly speaking about the private sin of the pastor and private email.

12 Chris Roberts September 27, 2012 at 1:17 pm


I should have clarified myself a bit more in the second half of my comment: whether or not the blogger’s actions were right, the actions were in line with things Peter himself has done and advocated and as such Peter has no room to complain unless he wants to revise his previous positions.


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