OF LEADERS AND DISCLOSURE
EVALUATING TEACHINGS IS APPROPRIATE
Evaluating teachings by comparing them to Scripture is a completely biblical thing to do.
Consider what the Spirit of God says about the Bereans in Acts:
"And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so."
Acts 17:10 - 11
If the Bereans were noble for evaluating the teaching of the Apostle Paul (who was the chiefest of apostles), then surely it is good to evaluate the teachings of Canyon Hills Community Church.
ACCOUNTABILITY OF LEADERS IN GOD’S KINGDOM
Leadership in God’s kingdom is remarkably different than leadership in worldly kingdoms in many ways, but the aspect which forms the basis of this website is that in Christianity those who lead in the church
are expected to be held accountable for their teachings
are expected to be held accountable for their personal walks
are expected to answer questions about their teachings and walk
In worldly kingdoms politicians can escape transparency through various means and they can ascend to office through violence or votes. But in Christianity leadership is supposed to be gained, instead, through moral power. Leaders are to be leaders because of their moral character, not the votes they get and not because of the collegiate training they have. Leaders are to have exemplary lives, not sinful ones; and they are to be transparent in their beliefs and in their actions, not secret and protected.
Further, Christianity is not a tradition where elders and pastors are only accountable to each other; instead, they are accountable, first to Christ as head of the Church, and then to the body of Christ including those they teach and lead.
All of this is the expectation, not the exception. It’s God’s kingdom and therefore it is HE who sets the standard.
In Jesus’ walk on earth some 2,000 years ago not only did Jesus demonstrate a moral character above refute, but he did not present such moral glory to belittle others as the Pharisees tried to do (they had no moral glory but presented themselves as such). Instead, Jesus affirmed the intrinsic value of each human (all of which are morally broken) as made in the image of God. Each man / woman / child, though born into a sinful race apart from God, was still worthy of dignity by virtue of being created in the image of God. Rather than children being a distraction from the more “serious” things of the day, Jesus found them to be representative of the true character of his Kingdom (Matthew 19). Prostitutes were worthy of redemption, rather than condemnation at the hands of the religious elite (John 8). Uneducated fishermen would be made his disciples not because of their learning but because of their heart and potential (Mark 1). A woman forced into the outcasts of society because of her multiple marriages, is just the type of woman whom Jesus would plan a detour for through Samaria in order to have a “chance” encounter at a well (John 4). And on and on.
While Jesus demonstrated a conviction of each humans’ worth, he also demonstrated that leadership in his kingdom would not be based on belittling others and ruling from “above”, but rather leadership in his kingdom would be firmly rooted in the principle of placing others as higher than oneself. In short, Jesus expected those in leadership in his Kingdom to demonstrate this same recognition of intrinsic worth in those being led. Jesus taught that those in leadership were not to be lording over others as the Gentiles do, but rather their leadership would be through humble service. Their role of leadership was not to demean and take away the value of those they led, but it was just the opposite: their role was to affirm the value of each.
“Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them. But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” Mark 10:42 - 45
In fact, the marks of his kingdom was first a love for God and then second loving others as ourselves (Mark 12:29 – 31). Not only was there to be humility in leadership, but there was to be a symmetry of love between all his followers.
A question that naturally rises is this: What do you do when those in God’s kingdom don’t exercise humility in leadership? What happens when they sin against those they are leading? What happens to this symmetry of love between disciples when one side doesn’t follow God’s blueprint?
As Chesterton develops in his seminal work, Orthodoxy, Christianity does not just rightly describe symmetry where it ought to be, but Christianity is fully aware of human proclivities and thus it must be morally transcendent in treating asymmetry. Consider what Chesterton says in his chapter on The Paradoxes of Christianity:
“The real trouble with this world of ours is not that it is an unreasonable world, nor even that it is a reasonable one. The commonest kind of trouble is that it is nearly reasonable, but not quite. Life is not an illogicality; yet it is a trap for logicians. It looks just a little more mathematical and regular than it is; its exactitude is obvious, but its inexactitude is hidden; its wildness lies in wait. I give one coarse instance of what I mean. Suppose some mathematical creature from the moon were to reckon up the human body; he would at once see that the essential thing about it was that it was duplicate. A man is two men, he on the right exactly resembling him on the left. Having noted that there was an arm on the right and one on the left, a leg on the right and one of the left, he might go further and still find on each side the same number of fingers, the same number of toes, twin eyes, twin ears, twin nostrils and even twin lobes of the brain. At last he would take it as a law; and then, where he found a heart on one side, would deduce that there was another heart on the other. And just then, where he most felt he was right, he would be wrong.
It is this silent swerving from accuracy by an inch that is the uncanny element in everything.”
So while Christianity affirms the intrinsic worth of each human as made in the image of God and thus possessing of certain inalienable rights – these rights are most easily summed up as love – the question arises: what we do when such love is not expressed? That is, what do we do when this symmetry of love between disciples is not apparent?
And it is here that Christianity provides a most uncanny of answers: while the symmetry of love is to be expected and taught, Christianity provides a path for when such rights are violated. Unlike Judaism, the answer is NOT to create our own symmetry. “You took my eye, I’m taking your eye too”. It is here where Christianity prescribes an asymmetrical response – in Chesterton’s world this is perhaps where Christianity predicts only one heart even though there are two hands.
In Matthew 18 we are told how to deal with grievances in relationships. That is, each of us has intrinsic worth and when we are sinned against it is not just a sin against us but chiefly against God, and so while we have a real interest in the case being resolved, God has yet any even GREATER interest inasmuch as one of his own has been violated. Any father who has witnessed his child being mistreated fully understands. God is so keen to have this symmetry restored that he laid out a path for it, including for when the offending party refuses attempts at reconciliation.
In Christianity, the final resolution is not vengeance – but disclosure.
The most asymmetrical of responses.
JUSTICE VS. VENGEANCE
Vengeance says “You destroyed my truck; I am destroying yours.”
Christian justice says “You destroyed my truck, if you don’t make it right I am simply telling others and letting God resolve the difference.”
The Apostle Paul said “Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works.” 2 Timothy 4:14
It’s not that vengeance is wrong, it’s just that in Christianity vengeance is wrong when carried out by us. Vengeance is to only done by the Lord. Paul told people that Alexander did him much evil and left it at that, knowing that the Lord would have vengeance in his own time. Paul named names.
Though the context is different, there is a similar line of teaching in 1 Thessalonians 4:6 “That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified.” In another translation it says “not overstepping the rights of and wrong in his brother in the matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all these things, even as we also told you before, and have fully testified.” (JND Translation) The word “defraud” in the King James is better understood to have the thought of “overreach”. When one Christian overreaches against another it is the Lord who is the avenger of all such matters. And this verse affirms that Christians do indeed have rights.
Overreaching behavior is sinful and not to be tolerated in Christ’s kingdom. As already mentioned, Jesus expects his leaders and those in a place of influence in his kingdom to be servants, not lords, and their position of leadership does not make them immune from the need to live godly transparent lives. In fact, it is just the opposite: they are NOT to lord over God’s heritage (no command-and-control type leadership) but rather INSTEAD they are to be examples. 1 Peter 5:3
And so, it is in this context that these letters are shared. Not only does the Aggrieved believe he is owed quite a bit of apologies and restitution, but inasmuch as the pastor and church refuse to even answer questions, then this disclosure may also serve as a warning to those attending that church that they should reconsider being under such men who not only behave this way, but who refuse to answer any questions about their behavior.
EVALUATING CHARACTER IS APPROPRIATE
And it is appropriate to evaluate the character of teachers or leaders in the Church. Here’s what the Apostle Paul had to say:
"For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake."
1 Thessalonians 1:5
The Apostle Paul is reminding the Thessalonians that he was not JUST a teacher. He didn't just show up on the stage and give a talk. But his message came in power, with the Holy Ghost and with assurance. There were more than just words to hang on to. There was contemporaneous or corroborating evidences which a moral force to what he had to say.
Additionally, the Apostle pointed out that they knew his character, and the Apostle refers to his own character as a reason for them to accept what he had to say. “As ye know what manner of men we were among you”. His character was on display, not just his teachings.
Additionally he was “among” them. He did not hide in his office; he did not enter stage right and exit stage left; nor was he the kind of man to refuse questions about his character or teachings. He was accessible. His character was part of his message and he knew that.
Canyon Hills Community Church refusing to answer any questions regarding their behavior is at total odds with this line of teaching.
However, having said all of this, AGGRIEVED gives great credit to PASTOR1 for his work ethic and accessibility up until things went south. He's got to be one of the hardest working pastors around.
HOWEVER....PASTORS DESERVE TO BE ALLOWED TO BE HUMAN
Having acknowledged the importance of character and teachings and that it is absolutely appropriate to evaluate them both - this does not mean pastors have to be perfect.
We are all sinful and fallen short of God's glory, and without God's redemptive grace where would any of us be? Pastors are to be examples, etc. but they simply cannot be perfect nor should we expect them to be.
However, after the reader is finished reading all of the content on this site I think they will agree that the sheer scope of sin and mistreatment is staggering. This is not run of the mill "But you didn't say HI to me when I came to church last week" but this is some extremely serious stuff.
And, keep in mind, AGGRIEVED gave them ample opportunity to correct their path and make apologies - but they refused. In fact, not only do they refuse to do the biblical thing (and follow their own advice) and apologize and make restitution - they won't even talk.
That's inexcusable and just not right, especially considering the sheer scope of what they have done.