As the church deals with unbiblical attitudes and actions by leaders (pastoral or secular), the rank-and-file Christian must be very cautious to stay immersed and trusting in God’s word so that we know and understand what God expects of us.
Biblical truth appears to be under attack from both outside and inside the Christian church. Christians have learned that they may experience “cancellation” and other hostile actions against them, so some either abandon their Biblical values or walk away from God. With so much hostility toward biblical values coming from outside the church, the last thing a Christian needs is to see them undermined by fellow Christians, causing confusion and muddied theology.
According to CBN News, a recent survey of 1,000 pastors regarding their biblical worldviews has yielded results that Evangelist Franklin Graham calls “concerning.” The Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University has conducted another survey. This one was directed to pastors, those who lead and teach the rest of us rank-and-file Christians. The results should raise the antenna of all Christians because we want to be taught the truth of God’s Word.
What are pastors believing and teaching?
Although thankfully, it’s not a large majority of pastors who have expressed unbiblical beliefs, the percentages are significant enough to cause concern regarding false teaching. The false teaching among those responsible for knowing and teaching the Bible should motivate all believers to be very careful about what is taught from the pulpit.
39% of pastors surveyed rejected the premise of absolute morality, asserting that individuals can “determine their own truth.”
Additionally, 30% of the respondents do not believe that salvation is based on confessing one’s sins and accepting Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
In response to this survey, Graham reportedly tweeted, “The Bible is God’s word, from cover to cover. It is the absolute truth - it is what counts, not our opinion.” He also expressed concern that such false teaching leads churches and people astray. So, if the pastors who should be teaching us biblical truth are rejecting it, are they not in rebellion against God?
However, there are some bright spots in the current morass of pastors’ unbiblical worldviews. At least one large denomination’s guiding organization, the Southern Baptist Committee, has taken radical action to discipline one church within the denomination. According to Christian Headlines, the committee disfellowshipped College Park Baptist Church in Greensboro, North Carolina for “open affirmation, approval, and endorsement of homosexual behavior.”
Christian Headlines referred to a quote on College Park’s website stating, “Our LGBTQ church has many LGBTQ members, in addition to gay/lesbian ministers, deacons and staff members … We perform same-sex weddings and welcome many who have been beaten up by the Bible and other churches.” Clearly, this church is in open rebellion against God’s word, which clearly states in several passages that homosexuality is a sin. The Committee, however, has taken disciplinary action toward the church. It stated in a 2012 resolution that while churches should accept and respect those who are struggling with same-sex attraction, the ultimate purpose in loving the homosexual is to point him or her in the direction of repenting of their sin and accepting Jesus as their Savior and Lord.
The departure from biblical truth and sound doctrine was prophesied by Paul the apostle when he wrote, “But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived” (2 Timothy 3:13, NKJV). So, with such deception becoming widespread, more people will reject biblical truth because of all the worldly lies that have been told, even from the pulpit. Paul also wrote in the same letter, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers, and they will turn their ears away from the truth and be turned aside to fables.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4, NKJV) This is clearly happening.
Political Leaders Also Cause Confusion About Truth
The roiling controversy regarding abortion also creates confusion and chaos in many churches, especially when some prominent political leaders who claim the Christian faith openly promote the availability of this barbaric procedure ending the lives of countless preborn babies. In fact, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who professes Catholicism, has placed herself at the center of the controversy regarding whether abortion is evil or public good. While the Catholic church, and most Christian churches, teach that aborting a preborn baby is a sin, which Scripture can back up, Pelosi has been adamant about promoting abortion.
In fact, her words regarding abortion may cause a great deal of confusion to the average Catholic who has grown up believing that abortion is the murder of a baby and, therefore a sin. Several publications, including The Washington Stand, a Christian publication of the Family Research Council, says Pelosi told those gathered at a “reproductive health” roundtable discussion on August 26 that restricting abortion is “sinful.”
It is difficult to determine what passage in the Bible Pelosi can find that clearly states how the deliberate killing of a baby is a “God-given” right and that denying that “right” is sinful.
The prophet Isaiah said, “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (5:20. NKJV). However, Pelosi’s words appear to be doing exactly that.
According to the website “Catholic Online,” Bishop Samuel Aquila, bishop of Fargo, ND, said in an interview with NBC’s Meet The Press more than a decade ago that Speaker Pelosi’s stance regarding abortion has confused the actual stance of the church clearly opposing abortion. The bishop stated, “Catholics who support so called abortion rights support a false right, promote a culture of death.”
David Closson, director of Biblical Worldview for the FRC, commented, “When you listen to what Nancy Pelosi said, she fundamentally does not understand how the Bible and how her own church understands what sin is, which is a violation of God’s decreed, revealed law.” He added, “She is a practicing Catholic, and the Catholic church has actually said that it is a sin to get an abortion.”
Sadly, there is a lack of unity within the Catholic church, as with the Protestant denominations mentioned earlier. On one hand, the Archbishop of San Francisco, Salvatore Cordileone, recently barred Pelosi from receiving Communion in the church until she openly repents of her promotion of abortion. However, such a disciplinary action is meaningless if other dioceses within the church do not adhere to it.
Jesus prescribed a process for dealing with a person who was openly sinning, and it could involve removing an insistent sinner from fellowship. Although Jesus speaks specifically of someone sinning against one of us, it could certainly apply to sinning against helpless preborn babies with no voice. The process involves going to the person sinning and privately explaining his or her fault; then, if the sinner does not heed that warning, talk to that person again with two or three witnesses to ensure that every word said is verified. The last resort is to inform the whole church of the sinner’s actions, and if that does not lead the sinner to repentance, the sinner should be treated as “a heathen or tax collector.” (Matthew 18:15-17)
The Apostle Paul also recommended that a blatant sinner be cast out of the church until he or she repents. He wrote, “You are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.” Paul also exhorted the church at Corinth against taking Communion in an unworthy way because they “eat and drink judgment to [themselves].” (1 Corinthians 11:27-29, NKJV)
So, such disciplinary actions are always for redemption, not eternal condemnation. However, how can one church leader’s disciplinary action be effective for redemption of an insistent sinner if it is nullified by other leaders in the same church? That is the dilemma Archbishop Cordileone has dealt with as he has tried to impress upon Pelosi the seriousness of her sin. Because there is no unity between him and other church leaders in Washington, D.C. and the Vatican, Pelosi has simply received Communion in those places, skirting the ban in her hometown.
As the church deals with unbiblical attitudes and actions by leaders (pastoral or secular), the rank-and-file Christian must be very cautious to stay immersed and trusting in God’s word so that we know and understand what God expects of us. Yes, we’re prone to fall short of God’s perfect standard, and we are forgiven for our shortcomings. However, let us not deliberately repudiate Scripture or make up our own rules in open rebellion to God. We could become responsible for someone else’s confusion about the truth.
Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/4maksym
Cathy Wentz lives with her husband, Brian, in Cedar City, UT, and has been a believer in Jesus Christ for more than 30 years. She has two grown children and four grandchildren, all who live in Cedar City. Her writing experience includes working as a newspaper reporter for eight years, and she currently serves as a public relations assistant for a local orthopaedic surgeon, which involves writing blogs, social media posts and other web content.