The main focus of this BLOG, is to uphold those simple, and clearly defined truths, that are so often missing from Christian life and conversation.
(There may also be the odd film or book review along the way as well as stories from my life)
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Monday, 4 May 2015

The Critical Mass

The Rise of the 21st Century Pharisee.

In the last year or so, I have become aware of a disturbing and increasing trend within the Christian Church.

It is a trend towards the open and relentless criticism of Christian leaders and figureheads.

This trend is being aided and abetted by unfettered, unregulated access to online sources and resources. It is a vehicle that is being driven with neither restraint, nor regard for others on the road.

There is even a website, an online news organisation, (and I'm sorry I don't have the link for you). It is made up of professional Christian journalists. They use their site as a platform for investigative journalism, directed towards the church. In other words, they make it their business to investigate and expose what they see as corrupt or inept church leadership. Christians. Sad really. And these are just the professionals.

There are others, they have their own websites. The majority are not professional journalists. Or they appear in forums and comment pages. They all have but one purpose. To criticise the work and ministry of other believers.

Some of the targets I've seen in recent months are people such as; Joel and Victoria Osteen, Mark Driscoll, Creflo Dollar. I can also include musicians in that list; Switchfoot, Brooke Frasier, Future of Forestry. There are a great many others.

People, (Christians) protest outside their venues. Some complain that they are not Christian enough, while others complain they are too Christian. Their message and lyrics are either too confronting, or too vague.

One commenter, posting on the Future of Forestry YouTube channel. Took it upon himself to declare that they were "fallen". The cause of his great umbrage? A drum sequence, taken from a performance of "The Little Drummer Boy". He saw it as excess and vanity.
When all it was really, was just a group of musicians having some fun. "Make a joyful noise unto the Lord" The Psalmist exhorts us. (Psalm 66:1, 81:1, 95:1-2, 98:4&6, 100:1) And that's just what they were doing.

Now, having said all of this. I will add this.

All of these leaders, ministers and artists that I have mentioned. All of them, and many more besides. I have opinions about all of them. But they are my opinions. They are based solely on how much I know about each of them. I know much about some, less about others. My knowledge is incomplete. Therefore I do not offer or broadcast my opinions. I keep them to myself.  Because I might be wrong about something, I may have misheard, misread or misunderstood. So to say anything, would be a mistake.

Here's an example of why from my own recent experience.

Last year, Hillsong Church (My church). Announced Mark Driscoll as a keynote speaker for the 2015 Conference.

Now Mark has faced a great deal of criticism for his leadership, attitudes toward women in ministry, among other things. In recent months he was removed from leadership by the church board. People I know started posting links to sites and sources that were simply out to get him, they seemed to be in agreement. I could so easily have joined them.

I could have written to, or confronted the pastors of my church. Demanding that such a man be removed from the guest list, it would be damaging for our church, that he not be permitted to speak and so on. I could have gotten on my high little horse and started making all sorts of noises. But I didn't.

Here's what I did do. I waited. I decided to Trust the Church Leadership, and see how they would handle the emerging situation. I had an inkling of how it might be possible to handle the situation in a sensible sensitive way. I am happy to say, I was vindicated in my belief. Because here's what happened. Mark Driscoll still appears as a guest with his wife Grace. They are now listed with the sub caption,  Interview.

You see this is the sensible way to deal with it. This is a clear example of Christians being "ministers of reconciliation" 2 Cor 5:18.

Are church leaders above reproach? Certainly not. Should they be held accountable? Absolutely. But that is the role of church boards and governing bodies. It is not the role of outsiders and armchair critics, trumpeting their false piety.

We should never be found on the side lines hurling stones of accusation. No, not us. We are all too broken for that. Instead of "J'accuse",  we should humbly cry "Mea culpa".

While I am attending this years  Hillsong Conference,  most likely as a volunteer. I may get to hear parts of the interview. I may re-form my opinion of Mark Driscoll.

But you won't read it here.

Because it will remain my opinion.

Since this post was first published, there have been some changes to the facts as written above.
Namely, that Mark Driscoll will no longer be a guest at Hillsong Conference 2015. The details behind this decision can be found elsewhere. I have no wish to repost them here.

Some things have not changed. My attitude towards church leadership, and my belief that we should not engage in wholesale criticism of such leadership.

Such criticism is nothing more than, gossip, tale bearing and back biting. The Bible is quite clear on these subjects. I don't believe I need to quote chapter and verse on this. It is not the right of every believer with a blog and an axe to grind, to post whatever they like, about whomever they dislike.

Lay down the axes, they cannot be used to build the church.