Sin and Forgiveness: My (final?) public thoughts on the Eddie Long mess (Part One) (Original Post Date: 6/8/11)

(Pastor Jermin says: This is a repost of a blog post that I originally wrote in 2011. Though it centered around Eddie Long, and his issues at the time, the larger issues presented are timeless, and as such, this piece should be reposted)

It is true that I pastor a house or simple church, but in my travels, I have spent many years in the ‘traditional’ denominational system, and in the Mega-Church.
During my Mega-church time, the pastor began to teach what he called ‘principles’. At first I was impressed by this new thing, thinking it to be innovative, clever, and full of wisdom. But subtly, almost imperceptibly, they began to supplant what they were intended to supplement. The scripture
(Please note that I will be dealing with this in a later blog post)

I do however remember two of the principles, which are apropos in this moment:

1) Error increases with distance and
2) Success reinforces error

What do these things mean, you ask?
Consider the following:
1) The further that you are away from an object, a concept, an event or a truth, the harder it is to properly discern just what it is/was. Perception is skewed by things that create distance, like time, and actual space (distance). This increases the potential for and probability of error exponentially, as the distance increases.

2) If you do something and it works out for you, you’ll do it again. This is true whether the thing is positive or negative, right or wrong. In fact you’ll be more apt to repeat it with even less consideration and planning. This is especially true if one measures success pragmatically (what works, or is expedient) as opposed to what is right or righteous…

A wonderful example of this type of thinking can be found in the Gospel of John, the 11th Chapter:
45 Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him. 46 But some of them went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done. 47 Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man does many miracles. 48 If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation. 49 And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said to them, You know nothing at all, 50 Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. – John 11:45-50


Nor can we forget the classic example which took place at man’s beginning – (Genesis 3:1-6)

What does this have to do with the Bishop? Well, as I have oft-said, Bishop Long drifted into aberration long ago, and few if any in the ‘church community’ chastened, or corrected him when his theology changed, his doctrine slipped, and he drifted into error, dragging thousands down with him. I believe that this is primarily because it appeared that he was having success. But a review of his doctrines over the past few years, in retrospect shows a clear departure from orthodoxy. (I will not in this post recount the many statements that were made over the years, they are readily available on the internet, and elsewhere in this blog.)

For this reason, the most recent debacle is almost a moot point, in that it (or something much like it) had to be expected, it was a foregone conclusion, an inevitability, but it must be asked; Where were the people that were supposed to speak truth to him? Where were his ‘friends’??? Where was the Nathan to his David?

Probably cast aside years ago, or summarily ignored.

(Please note that I am by NO means equating Pastors with Kings. Pastors are little more than the sheepdogs in the pen that help the master pasture the sheep, the reference merely helps to illustrate the point. Please see 2 Samuel 12:1-15)

I guarantee you that Bishop was hearing ‘You are the man’ from all the enabling wolf-pups around him, but it was for all the wrong reasons…

He, as so many powerful (and powerfully deluded) men tend to, surrounded himself with ‘yes men’ and enablers, hoping to hide his sin. It is arrogant, ignorant, and an act of treason against the Father and His Kingdom.

(Before you accuse me of being presumptuous or throwing stones, consider that SOMEONE other than those young men, knew of the Bishop’s ‘proclivities’. That big a secret required a team of individuals to manage it for sure, and make no mistake they are ALL guilty as well, which in itself is ANOTHER reason to settle)

But now the cat is out of the bag, and confidentiality agreement or not, the sins have come to light…

Consider this, from Steven Strang, Editor of Charisma Magazine. In an article published June 1 2011:

“In 2006, I heard rumors about Bishop Long allegedly being involved in homosexuality. Long had built a great church in Atlanta. We once featured him on the cover of Charisma and his influence went far beyond Atlanta. I had great respect for him and published one of his books.
Since he was speaking at a large expo we were sponsoring a few weeks later, I felt I needed to talk to him. I tried repeatedly to make an appointment to warn him that there were rumors and to ask if they were true. He refused to talk to me and cancelled the speaking engagement. Saddened, I just quietly took his book out of print and withdrew any support we had given him.”
The complete article is here

Was Mr. Strang the only one who had heard the ‘whisperings’? I doubt it. He is several levels removed from the Bishop. It must be assumed then, that many in his ‘peer group’ heard too, but did nothing. We can all sit back and present numerous theories as to why this is the case, I believe that it is akin to GM not warning Chrysler about potential safety hazards (not that Chrysler would listen).

Remember, that it is, after all, all about the money. ‘But this is ministry’, you say. Really? Not so much… The more sheeple in the pens, the more wool in the barn baby, and you know we gotta keep warm…

For you who are his defenders: Many of you decried and excoriated the Roman Catholic church, for its deliberate and systematic cover-up of the institutional pedophilia which it practices, and the subsequent lawsuits when this centuries old practice came to light, yet you defend Bishop Long. It smacks of hypocrisy. And it smacks LOUD.

But you are right. We do not KNOW that he did ANYTHING wrong. This is true.
At best, a good PR person, (which the Bernice King announcement makes clear that New Birth does NOT have, by the way) could easily spin this thus: Due to the fact that there was no finding of wrongdoing (there was no trial), there is no issue, and no statement be made.
Needless to say, I would disagree.

What DO we know?
1) 4 Young men, (barely over the ‘legal age of sexual consent, which kept this from becoming a CRIMINAL trial) sued BISHOP Eddie Long alleging, (among other things) sexual coercion
2) BISHOP Long vowed publicly that he was ‘gonna fight this thing’, and made his famous ‘5 rocks’ statement
3) It was announced that the parties involved were seeking mediation
4) It was announced that a settlement has been reached
5) To date (as of this writing) there has been no statement from the Bishop concerning this at all. Of course he can hide behind the terms of the confidentiality agreement and claim that he is unable to discuss it, but this is neither Wall Street, nor Hollywood, it is ‘the church’ and the key to resolution/restoration is confession and repentance.

Consider this from Roland Martin of CNN, published June 4, 2011
“He is someone who thousands follow, and they should hear the truth, and nothing but the truth, from Long. Not his lawyer, not his spokesman, not his wife — him! He should have never decided on a private mediation; Long should have demanded that everything be discussed in public.
If you are truly innocent of such heinous allegations, you don’t go behind closed doors. You defend yourself publicly and shame those who try to muddy your name and derail your ministry.
Long has utterly failed even his own preaching. He has stood in the pulpit and demanded accountability of others, but clearly believes a different set of rules applies to him.
After his refusal to address the issue publicly, openly and truthfully, I don’t see how any pastor could participate in a conference with Long on the rostrum. I don’t see how any gospel musician could go to his church and stand in the pulpit with him to sell their CDs. As a churchgoing man, there is no way I could sit under the spiritual leadership of any pastor who was unwilling to stand before his congregation and address the issue head on.”
The complete article is here

But enough about Eddie Long… It’s really about …

SIN
The real issue here is SIN, specifically how SIN is dealt with in the body of Christ.

Let us be clear, sin is a fatal disease, there is no recovering from it, it is 100% fatal.
How do we handle disease when it strikes our bodies? We use every method and means available to us to get rid of it. We spare no expense, we will search far and wide for a cure, and we will exhaust every possibility, yet when sin is present in the body of Christ, we say ‘Judge Not’.
Why is this? Is it because the rest of the statement is true? Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. – Matt 7:1-2

Are we afraid of the measure that shall be measured to us again?
Do we say judge not because ‘All have sinned and fallen short’ so this is somehow OK? SIN is somehow legitimized because it is a common condition? This is expedience over righteousness, pragmatism over Holiness, but it is still just as true today as the day it was written:
Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. – Galatians 6:7

SIN destroys Fellowship,
SIN destroys Community,
SIN destroys Safety,
SIN destroys Peace,
SIN destroys Life!
Most importantly,
SIN keeps us from GOD!

And a body out of communication with its head is DEAD.
So, we must confront SIN, call the brother/sister to repentance, and if they do not, put the OUT of the fellowship. THAT is what the Bible says. Put the SIN out of the fellowship. The situation described in 1st Corinthians 5 is as serious (and as deadly) as the situation involving Achan, described in Joshua 7. Time and time again the scripture is clear that the direct result/consequence/wages of SIN is DEATH: Spiritual, Emotional, Relational, Physical DEATH!

Does this imply that no one sins? Obviously not, but the message is clear: Unrepentant sin festers, pollutes, and infects other parts of the body, much like cancer spreading from a diseased organ,. It must be excised, if the body is to survive. It is after all, better to enter in, missing a part, and then be left outside the kingdom physically whole. (Mark 9:43-47)
If they repent, restore them. (2 Corinthians 2:5-11)

We have allowed the world to impose their sinful lack of understanding on us, and as a result respond in the way that we think they need to see in order to placate them.
This is, in my view, largely because of the current popularity of Neo-Arminianism, which because it says that man chooses God, by extension necessitating that we make Jesus, the Bible and Christianity acceptable to men, so that they will ‘accept Jesus’ and be saved. Any honest reading of the text belies this quickly, but that is another story for another time.

The palatable/acceptable Jesus (Jesus lite) is no Jesus at all, and any relationship based on sentiment and not truth is doomed to fail. Ask anyone who’s ever ‘fallen out of love’…

 

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