Wednesday, July 14, 2010


The Issue of "Tolerance"

Al Mohler looks at the phenomena of "Pastors that do not believe" and concludes:
If they will not remove themselves from the ministry, they must be removed. If they lack the integrity to resign their pulpits, the churches must muster the integrity to eject them. If they will not “out” themselves, it is the duty of faithful Christians to “out” them. The caterpillars are hard at work. Will it take a report from an atheist to awaken the church to the danger?
Look there is an inherent dishonesty in a pastor leading a flock when he does not believe in where he is leading them, but there is also a role for compassion in a discussion like this. Pastors are not immune from doubt, and we have to provide them some room to be fallen humans like the rest of us. While I would not disagree that some one serving the church that has concluded the church to be invalid probably needs to move on - I find Mohler's lack of compassion and understanding almost as objectionable.

In the first place, this is a call to set ourselves up as judge, jury and executioner. The very use of the term "outing" is provocative and highly judgmental. Dialog, discuss, cajole, persuade, but "out"? Come on, theistic doubts are hardly in the same category as homosexual behavior.

Mohler quotes the source he is relying upon:
The ambiguity about who is a believer and who is an unbeliever follows inexorably from the pluralism that has been assiduously fostered by many religious leaders for a century and more: God is many different things to different people, and since we can’t know if one of these conceptions is the right one, we should honor them all. This counsel of tolerance creates a gentle fog that shrouds the question of belief in God in so much indeterminacy that if asked whether they believed in God, many people could sincerely say that they don’t know what they are being asked.
Look, there is a point where a definition can become so loose that it is meaningless. But there is also a point where we can cling so tightly to a definition that it becomes legalism.

But the thing that really bothers me about this most of all is that I have known a few "unbelieving" pastors in my life and I have seen God work through them. To assume that they somehow stand in the way of ministry is to assume that God is not nearly as powerful as He really is. And isn't that the ultimate hubris?

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