Thursday, October 3, 2013

Pride Before the Fall: How Egotists Affect the Church

Pride Fall
When men like Martin Luther opposed the Roman Catholic Church, for the most part, since he was in Europe he would have had scant options as to where to go Church. There was certainly the option to go to the Eastern/Greek Church if he left Germany. Or perhaps he could have joined with the Waldensians who had been in existence at least since about 9-10th century. Or he could have joined the Lollard movement in his own Germany. But, as we know neither Luther nor most of the Reformers such as Huldrych Zwingli had to make this choice. Each already had a position and therefore an instant ability to create a "new church". How much different it would have been had Luther, Zwingli and some of the other early reformers been mere laymen. In my studies of historic Christianity, one thing I've noticed about the various reforms that have come, not just the Reformation is that the issue that prompted the need for reform was certainly increasing corrupt doctrine. However, before the corrupt doctrine came prideful men espousing that false doctrine. This brings an entirely deeper understanding of Proverbs 16:18 where we read, "pride goes before the fall". It has always been so. In the Garden, it was pride and desire to be equal with God that led Eve to listen to the serpent. In the many biblical stories of the polygamy disasters of jealous wives, again pride led them to behave such. Pride caused the Jews to reject Jesus because He was calling for them to humble themselves to Him and to the authorities (including the Romans). They did not want to give up their place of power. Today, we see the same thing from people who think they hold positions of power. They are proud men who demand respect simply because of the position but not necessarily because of their attributes or actions. So, in this quest to see what a layman is to do when they are faced with prideful men in positions of power, even within the Christian community and within churches we have little example. Typically 1 Tim 5:19 is trotted out to deflect and to supposedly silence the layman. Unless the critique is backed up by more than two or three witnesses or so damning that the prideful leader can't escape, the layman is usually fairly powerless to do anything. An example of this is something I recently saw from the defunct preacher Ted Haggard. If you recall, Haggard had been accused of a homosexual relationship. Haggard finally admitted the relationship saying:
"...because of pride, I began deceiving those I love the most because I didn't want to hurt or disappoint them. The fact is I am guilty of sexual immorality. And I take responsibility for the entire problem. I am a deceiver and a liar. There's a part of my life that is so repulsive and dark that I have been warring against it for all of my adult life," -- source
But what is even more disturbing is when supposed Christian apologists (defenders of truth) continue to hold Haggard up as a good example and even allow Haggard to say the following without calling him on it.
"I already do have a leadership position in the body of Christ again. In our nation, religious leaders are chosen by the followers, not by church or government institutions. Though I don’t think I’m deserving for leadership, it is happening. I lead well attended pastor’s meetings across the country, and many of the churches I speak at have record attendance when I’m there. Gayle’s book is on the New York Times bestseller list. All of this is because people chose to follow those they believe will encourage and assist them. I am honored to serve when asked." -- Haggard, source
Do you see how the above comments drip with arrogance and pride? How Haggard brags about how quickly he was able to restart a ministry and how supposedly where he speaks there is "record attendance". Did the man learn anything from getting caught in his sins? More, why is this supposed Christian apologist giving cover to Haggard? We might understand more because the apologist starts by saying:
"For those of you that don’t know Ted Haggard encouraged me at a time when I was going to shut this site down." -- source
It's apparent then what drives this supposed Christian apologist is not defending biblical truth and morality but rather his personal relationship -- what Haggard did for him. Whatever the side-story is, both Haggard and the apologist are driven by pride. What does the average Christian do when much of the "leadership" and their supporters are filled with pride and ego, so much so that they cannot be critiqued by anyone? This has a dampening effect on Christianity, where the average Christian begins to think it is better to withdraw from all such "leaders" and their egotistical supporters. It becomes worse when these prideful men and their supporters not only try to cover up their pride but when they begin to spend more time attacking those critiquing them. I have seen this first hand with my issues dealing with hyperpreterism, where I have confronted "leaders" that have been covering up the pride and corrupt doctrines of others and then when confronted, those "leaders" go on attack. (source 1 & source 2) All it would have taken is a little humility on the part of the "leaders" to admit they have not been fulfilling their duties. But instead, the "leaders" and their supporters go on the attack. I have even had my salvation questioned and neither the "leader" or his many supporters speak up. Lastly, what local congregation wants all of this trouble, whether the issues are valid or not? The average Christian is told to just sit in the pew and be quiet as if it is not his or her place to point out these prideful, corrupt men. So, these prideful men continue for years unabated because those in position to oppose them do nothing and sometimes even cover for them while the average Christian is told it is none of his business. I'm calling for REAL Christian leaders to stand up and do something about things like this. Churches aren't empty because people aren't starving for the truth. Churches are empty because too many pastors and preachers aren't doing what is right, but only what is comfortable. Christianity needs to once again be the beacon, a light of truth and goodness. I implore those in position to do so to oppose prideful men and even more so, prideful men in the Church. The Reformation didn't come about merely over corrupt doctrines but over prideful men in power. And while the Reformation did bring about many good things, it has had a very divisive effect and has weakened Christianity's standing in the world, until today we have men like Haggard bragging about how they are able to get off with a slap on the wrist and move right back into a "ministry" and have supposed Christians cover for them. Sickening. No wonder people often are Christians but have little desire to attend church. Who wants to be part of that mess?

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