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Jul 26, 2012

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Mary

It's amazing the illogic of the commenters. JM has skirted his responsiblity and kept his sin hidden while portraying himself as some sort of expert on how we are to deal with this sin. He's lectured people on how to deal with homosexuals while deceiving everyone. And those people on Stetzer's blog act as if some horrible thing has befallen him poor guy. What a victim! He's suffering the consequences of his sin. And no it's not courageous to admit to your sin only when you've been caught. The jig was up what exactly was the alternative?

Maybe Sunday he'll apologize for his years of deceptions while self-righteously judging on this issue.

Maybe Sunday he'll apologize for the damage he has done to the Christian church. Because this ain't gonna play pretty in those secular leftist circles he's thrust himself into - portraying himself as a kinder, gentler, "real" Christian. He will be attacked now in those circles he has embraced as a hateful, deceitful, in denial gay man. Look at the other link in the previous post to the other blog for evidence that this is already happening.

Jonathon Merritt needs to be very greatful his friends in high places will attempt to sweep this away as not a very big deal. People like Ed Stetzer will become indignant because how dare we think "you know what, this is a big deal" If this were someone who was not a darling of the elites you can bet ol' Ed wouldn't be running the cleanup PR campaign he's running. The bus would have already arrived.

Cal

Well, ok 3 years ago he sinned and now he's confessed it to the world. But is any of this wholesome or edifying (Eph 4:29)? Just seems like gossip to me (even if it's true).

Mary

What's going to be edifying is to watch all the "we need more church discipline" fanatics ignore this. I'm pretty sure church discipline doesn't invole a step of adulation and on to immediate restoration. Of course there's different rules for the little people.

Cal

My limited knowledge of this case doesn't indicate a need for church discipline. That would only be in order if he refused to repent of his sinful lifestyle after being confronted by the church, right? It doesn't seem like that is the case here, but maybe I'm missing something.

April

Cal, you have excellent points. What has been posted here edifies neither the church nor our Christian brother. Thank you for sharing your wisdom.

Mcjennn

You are no better than a gossip columnist.

Mary

If anybody does the research into the type of discipline practiced by Acts 29 and 9 Marks fanatics you know that just saying sorry isn't enough. A case like this Merritt would be immediately removed from any positions of leadership and have to sign discipline contracts detailing who he is accountable to and what he plans to do to seek restoration etc, etc. He would b forced to jump through a whole of hoops while going through lot's of "counseling" where many people are required to detail every sin and sinful thought they've ever had to get to the "root" of sin. Those unwilling to submit to such discipline would be declared unrepentant and kicked out of church and shunned.

And yeah I can see now the site will be swarmed with all the why do you people think sin is such a big deal crowd. He said sorry! He's a hero worthy of adulation in the PC Young Christian Crowd. Such a cool relavent hip sin. This attitude is showing the very disturbing trend that certain segments of the SBC really do not think sin is that big of a deal.

Chris Gilliam

I remember well the reaction many had with Gordon McDonald. Some remained bitter and untrusting long after his restoration process.

BUT RESTORATION PROCESS HE DID COMPLETE. He wrote of it in "Rebuilding Your Broken World."

What is unclear to me is if there is a double standard at play. Many in the baptist camp rightly called for the removal of Ted Haggard and demanding a restoration process (which he failed to comply). No one, as I am aware, are seeking to restore his credibility because a simple confession, a confession that was not forthcoming, but forced as a result of his outing.Perhaps some one can shed light on this for me?

Chris Gilliam

Peter, you write, "Jonathan Merritt needs—indeed must have—the full support of God’s people. But such support will not be found in sitting at Jonathan’s feet to listen to his counsel. Instead he should sit at the church’s feet and heed her counsel."

Is that not the same counsel given to the forgiven Ted Haggard and Gordon McDonald.

Another question, how would this differ if Jonathan had not been a pastor and had all these experiences and restoration PRIOR to holding the office?

peter lumpkins

Hi Cal, McJen, and April,

When either of you can show how what I've logged here is substantially different from what Stetzer and now Christianity Today has posted, I may engage your comments and make apology as to why I think what I logged is not, as you put it, "gossip."

Nor is your participation on this thread to go unnoticed as entirely duplicitous. You summarily dismiss this blog & thread as "gossip" and hence "unedifying" with Cal even conceding his ignorance about the circumstances, but swiftly move right ahead nonetheless and participate in publicly stating your opinions and judgments anyway. But that's all I've done--state my judgments and opinions. Except I did it not believing logging my judgments and opinions to be "gossip" while you did it with that moral albatross strangely hanging from your judgmental neck.

Thus, to show you actually mean what you logged, I suggest you dowse your flickering candle here and grab your gear and go camp out at a site where your participation does not smack of sheer hypocrisy.

I hope I have been helpful even if I have been blunt.

With that, I am...
Peter

peter lumpkins

Chris,

Thanks. Up until only recently, the young Merritt was listed as "Teaching Pastor" at CP church. Additionally, at most of JM's engagements, he was introduced as a teaching pastor at CP. Now, he is "consultant" but it's hard to tell what that means. He still regularly preaches at CP.

For my part, any discipline will obviously come from CP since discipline is always locally administered.

I always appreciate your contributions, brother.

With that, I am...
Peter

Mary

This is in the Washington Post and Baptist Press but I suppose we're not to talk about the stories of the day and have opinions.

You bring up Ted Haggard - you have to wonder how true the repentance is when the person has been forcefully "outed" in their sin. Are they truly sorry for the sin or just sorry they've been caught and saying all the right words for PR purposes. Only God knows the heart and of course we as Christians have to take JM at his words. It's disturbing that this is being treated as something that's none of our business. JM set himself up as a leader over us when he presumes to go around publically lecturing and chastising us. Has he repented of the fact that at the time he was having these struggles that he was also "lording" it over anyone. Should we question exactly what is in his heart and his motivations when he was speaking out on how Christians are to treat homosexuals when he was not completely up front with everyone. And does repentance really include a first step of "let me explain to you why this is really not my fault - bad thing from childhood - feel sorry for me please." The child JM was a victim - the adult who sins is not a victim. Nobody needed to know about the childhood abuse - it's obviously good PR because now the focus is on "oh poor boy!"

And then let's look at how people are still whining and moaning and "gossiping" about Richard Land. Richard Land got caught plagerizing and saying stupid things. Richard Land repented and suffered some consequences for his actions. Those in authority over him took charge. This even went to the convention. It wasn't enough for some people who like to preach about sanctimony. They want to continue to badger and tell everyone how superior they are and how screwed up everybody else is. Isn't it funny those people think we should just sweep this under the rug for JM?

And then of course as I mentioned, this is the perfect case for the church discipline fanatics to outline exactly what the discipline process should be - you know the people like 9 Marks. Does anyone really believe that Jonathan Merritt will be facing a discipline process that 9 Marks and Co would force on one of the little people? Of course it will be up to Cross Point what they do, but if the edict hadn't come down from on high to rally the troops does anyone really believe that those who gnash and wail about the lack of church discipline wouldn't have some very definate ideas as to how this should be handled and the fact that the reality won't be anything like they admonish constantly won't raise a peep.

Sam Handwich

I come to this discussion from, i imagine, a different perspective than most here. I'm gay, married to my partner in Massachusetts, and i'm probably what you'd call an atheist or secular humanist.

But i wanted to tell Peter that i'm sorry for the flack he's taking over this. I think he has handled the topic quite fairly, and i share the suspicion over the 'rehearsed" nature of the Stetzer interview, as well as JM's apparent aim to premise his consensual behavior as an adult on a claim of being molested as a child. It makes me angry because I believe a great number of folks at Cross Pointe, or in the evangelical community at large, will be willing to accept that as a logical cause, i.e. "Oh, he was molested, that explains it all!"...which frankly does a grave disservice to the victims of child abuse and the definition of "brokenness", and further confuses the issue of what homosexuality actually is.

My honest suspicion is that Azariah was neither the first nor the last, and that making excuses in a big tear-fest on Sunday will only postpone the inevitable.

Mary

Hi Sam, welcome to our lil' slice of the internet. If you haven't figured it out Peter and some of his regular commenters are treated like the red-haired step children of the SBC Community.

I think you raise some very good points.

First, for me as a Christian I am disturbed that an act of repentance begins with the detail of childhood sexual abuse which as you state seems to be pushing observers to the conclusion - "the reason I committed this act of sin was because of this from my childhood." And of course the logic doesn't follow because not all victims of sexual abuse in childhood are LGBT adults and not all LGBT adults experienced sexual abuse as children.

As to your suspicion, we may wonder in our heads, but for us to talk about that would I think send us down the rabbit trail of gossip. It is not gossip to discuss the facts that we've publically been given. It would be gossip if I were to take those facts and wander along with all the questions that those facts raise in my mind. I say this to explain to our friends up thread what gossip (which we are admonished against Biblically) entails. To play the "you're a gossip card" is a way to silence dissent among Christians.

And it is disturbing that this seems to be set up so that James and Jonathan Merritt will have the "tear fest" on Sunday, Jonathan will be completely restored to the Christian community without further ado and now will be the go-to guy for how the SBC deals with the LGBT issues.

peter lumpkins

All,

I'm away for the rest of the day. Play nice.

With that, I am...
Peter

Anon

Peter....
A hot place must be freezing over because I think I agree with you, at least in part. It is a heartbreaking story all the way around but Jonathan didn't "come clean"- he got caught. Now, that doesn't mean that God can't use this for good or that at some point he will not be in a position to share an amazing story of God's grace. But it does not seem he is in such a position today. Although certainly not as publicly, I have been "caught" in sexual sin in my past. Today I see it as God's grace that caught me. Prudence requires giving some time to see how Jonathan responds to all of this.

And a caution for all of us: knowing first hand the darkness of sexual sin and especially the depth of same-sex attraction- I know that Jonathan is in for a long battle...probably every day for the rest of his life. I hope that we allow him time to repent, heal, find help, and establish a pattern of faithfulness and accountability before making him a "hero." But I hope some day he (by God's grace of course) is that....but it is too early and for Jonathan's own good it is probably best if he steps away (and "we" allow him to) to deal with these issues fully and establish a pattern of faithfulness in his life.

On the other hand: without commenting on your motives for your original post on the topic (which I can never know) or judging the rightness/wrongness of the post I would like to say that as an occasional reader of your blog I found it at the very least extremely unsavory and unwise. As a fellow follower of Christ I felt you owed it to Jonathan for him to respond first- before posting on the topic. Would it really have killed you to wait a few days? Especially considering your past disagreements with Jonathan certainly you have to recognize the post could APPEAR to be vengeful to the outside observer.

Nathan Petty

Mary, I'm curious about your reference to 9 Marks. They do promote church discipline, and it appears you do, too. Are you asserting that 9 Marks, on a practical level, only apply church discipline to "little people"? I hadn't heard that, so I am curious if this is your opinion.

Outside of Dever's friendship with Mahaney (who was not a member of Dever's church at the time of his recent troubles), I haven't ever seen or heard of anything which would lead someone to conclude that 9 Marks has a hands-off discipline approach to non-"little people".

Mary

Anon, you have some good words. I disagree with your last paragraph.

Nathan, church discipline is biblical. Folks like 9 Marks and Acts 29 take it into spiritual abuse territory in my opinion. The people who I believe will be practicing a hands off approach in this instance are the same people who are pushing into these unhealthy forms of church discipline. If JM were not a darling of the likes of Al Mohler he wouldn't get the PR job that's going on now with Stetzer - imagine if Rick Warren has a son (I don't know just for arguments sake) if this were Rick Warren's son, the blogs would be going insane now over how this is supposed to be handled and if it's not handled in the way of 9 Marks/Acts 29 Warren would have been crucified. We'll see if those who would have no second thoughts about screaming church discipline remain silent if JM is still held in leadership capcity and is not seen going through the rigorous and lengthy restoration process that non darlings of the SBC elite would have to endure. We're already seeing the hero worshipping and the portrayal of poor JM as a victim. Not a good start to church discipline.

EJ

Is Merritt (or was he during the time of his more-than-friendship-contact) a deacon or an elder at his church? I think that information of his role in his local church should help guide where his local church should begin in their response/reaction.

Tim Rogers

EJ,

It was 2009 when this incident took place. It seems that Merritt was listed as their Collegiate Minster at that time.

Max

Good Lord! The Southern Baptist conversation gets sadder and stranger by the day. The varied opinions on this issue reflected in this blog and elsewhere is yet another symptom of a people of God which has lost its way. If we can't agree on what the "Gospel" is, we should not expect a consensus on this matter either. I trust that Mr. Merritt's church will do the right thing. With a world watching in, may they see that we love our own, even if occasionally it comes to tough love. It's God's reputation which is at stake.

If Ezekiel were to look through a hole in the wall of the church today, what other abominations would he see? It's well past time for pulpit and pew to humble themselves, pray, turn from their wicked ways, and seek God's face. We don't need to talk at each other, we need to pray. Yep, it's come to that! Who in SBC ranks will step forward and lead us to corporate repentance? "IF my people ... THEN will I."

Nathan Petty

Mary, I'll have to look into a possible confluence of intentions and methods between Acts 29 and 9 Marks. My impression is that 9 Marks is an organization dedicated to equipping church leaders (albeit from a more reformed perspective), whereas Acts 29 is a church planting network (also reformed).

Driscoll's association with Acts 29 certainly is of concern as I believe his ministry has exhibited unbiblical leadership and control issues which has led to spiritual abuse. But I've yet to hear of the same problems concerning spiritual abuse with 9 Marks teaching or practice.

I appreciate your thoughts on this.

Mary

Nathan, the way Acts 29 churches (and SGM churches) are structered are very similar to how 9 Marks suggest churches be stuctured. What we see in practice with the Acts 29 churches is that the system can manipulated by the wrong people and become very cultic in structure. These are very closed systems. When churches start separating people from family and start demanding an accounting of all their time, demanding conformity of thought with sword of "discipline" hanging ove church members heads that's a bad thing.

Now understand that I know there are some very good people in the Acts 29 network doing very fine and wonderful work and in their own bubbles they are not spiritually brow beating their people into submission. I understand that 9 Marks has some very helpful ideas and advice. But when an organization like 9 Marks recommends that churches have lawyers put together membership contracts so that churches can carry out discipline? Huge Red Flag. When you have an organization declaring that churches are the ones deciding when to allow members to leave their church? Sirens wailing. An organization declaring that the church has the authority to declare people are unsaved? yeah 5 alarm fire.

There's a lot to see here, but what you figure out the more deeper you go is that a lot of the things and the way 9 Marks suggest churches should operate are in practice in Acts 29/SGM churches and it's led to some issues as you say of unbiblical leadership and spiritual abuse.

And if I haven't made the point clear the reason I bring up the church discipline fanatics in this context is because the people who would be all over this if it were anybody except SBC Royalty would be writing blog post after blog post about the necessity of severe discipline.

In this situation I pray there are people who will lovingly stick with Jonathan Merritt and counsel him and hold him accountable and perhaps make sure he has the consuling that he needs. He and his family and anyone else who is touched by this situation need to be loved and supported. If he were in a 9 Marks church that discipline/restoration process would be pretty severe and ongoing.

And if you didn't know you can find Mars Hill Membership contract online and if you compare that contract with 9 Marks you'll see the same philosophy of church goveranance. I think the new President of Acts 29 who's name escape me right now also has his churches membership contract online.

Nathan Petty

Mary, thanks for your comments. I appreciate your concern for Biblical standards of leadership.

I heartily agree that standards of Christian conduct should be applied without regard for position, celebrity or title. That, of course, is a widespread phenomenon, common both in and out of the church.

I'll certainly try to be more discerning as I review materials from 9 Marks. No doubt there are self-serving individuals (pastors included) who may pervert otherwise sound guidelines. But I don't yet detect the same problems with 9 Marks. Having attorneys draft membership "contracts" certainly isn't overtly reflected in any of the materials on their website. I did see an article which recommends that members be informed about the processes and responsibilities of church membership and church discipline.

You would expect Capitol Hills Baptist Church to reflect 9 Marks approaches to ministry and membership. Their church covenant is a one page document which is very general in nature about the responsibilities of membership. I can only hope that any discipline process which is used by Capitol Hills or any other church is motivated by a commitment to God honoring holiness, grace, and ultimate restoration and reconciliation.

Thanks again for taking the time to interact.

Randall Cofield

TO ALL,

This scandal-mongering is a disgrace, and everyone who is involved in making this as public as possible is doing serious disservice to the cause of Christ.

This is a Church matter for JM's home congregation, and they are now faced with having to remove him from the work of the ministry (1Ti. 3:2, 7) and restore him to proper relationship with God and the congregation.

This kind of rag-mag participation betrays an undeniable absence of love for both JM and his Church; and the whole "we need to pray for them" after splattering this whole sorry mess far and wide is pure hypocrisy--you would never do such to someone you genuinely loved.

The lack of concern for the shame being brought upon the name of our Savior here is appalling.

Peter, you should repent, remove these posts, and issue a public plea for forgiveness to both Mr. Merritt and his Church.

Otherwise, your Church should place you under discipline.

R. Cofield

Sam Handwich

I realize i'm peering into a world that is somewhat foreign to me, but what's the obsession with "discipline" around here? It strikes me as a form of arrested development peppered with sadomasochism. Why can't you simply allow your fellow humans to exist without incessantly scrutinizing their motives and actions which have absolutely zero impact on you personally?

Nathan Petty

Sam, I can understand your view, but it isn't really an "obsession". Discipline, at least as is understood in an orthodox evangelical church, is something which is mandated by scripture. God expects his children to hold ourselves to a standard of behavior which is consistent with his nature, his perfection. Now, we're not going to attain that level of perfection but we strive to live such lives. Stating that leaves us open to criticism and ridicule because we fall short, but so be it.

Some sin rises to a level which requires corporate response, and this response may help to answer your question about our "obsession" with something which (seemingly) has no impact on us personally. Sin, in fact, does have an impact on every Christian because the sin detracts from the church's objective to be God's ambassadors in this world. We are told that the manifold wisdom of God will be revealed through the church. When that mission is threatened by scandalous sin, we are commanded to confront it.

So, for example, Paul enjoined Christians living in Corinth to eject from the church a member who was engaging in sex with his father's wife. Perhaps (and I'm only using the term for illustrative purposes) a secular humanist would say to "live and let live." And that would be entirely consistent with such a view of mankind.

But a Christian who owes total allegiance to God will respond in a different way. We will, if needed, confront our brother with his sin and plead with him to repent, turn from his sin, and be maintained in fellowship with his brothers and sisters. We trust that Mr. Merritt will be lovingly, and directly, counseled by the congregation in which he is a member. It is not for us to take an active, direct part of that process.

I can appreciate that notions of God, sin and discipline may not resonate with you. Secular humanism, but its very nature, has elevated humans above their creator. But our obsession is not, and should not be, with discipline. Our obsession is the that the glory of God, as revealed in his Son, would be seen in his church and restored to its rightful place in his creation.

Sam, my apologies for the length of this reply. I hope it has, at least in some measure, addressed your observation.

Tim Rogers

Randall,

I am not trying to speak for Peter but I believe he would agree. If you do not like the conversation here, please feel free to go some place else. You do not have to stop by here and play the role of the Holy Spirit. Feel free to not come back again if Peter's post offends you that bad.

Don

" It strikes me as a form of arrested development peppered with sadomasochism."

Sam,

Church Discipline is, essentially, evangelism for those on the church roles. The goal is reconciliation. It is a hand-up for a brother/sister who has fallen.

Chris Gilliam

Randall,

Indeed this is a local church issue. However, Merrrit, as Stetzer so willingly documents with accolades proport to minister to the universal church, as such this is a broader issue. Merritt made himself the voice in the broader arena.

Mary

Oh the irony is deep this morning. A church has a few racists who influence the pastor and that it viewed as something that our SBC leaders should be dealing with and MUST discuss and deal with immediately.

A man who has set himself up as one of our young leaders admits to sexual sin and we're told it's hateful to discus the information that has been given publically and we're supposed to respect the autonomy of the church.

Some sins we're supposed to boldly proclaim and get angry about others... well it all depends on who you know in the SBC.

Mike

"I am not trying to speak for Peter but I believe he would agree. If you do not like the conversation here, please feel free to go some place else. You do not have to stop by here and play the role of the Holy Spirit. Feel free to not come back again if Peter's post offends you that bad."
Really Tim? What I heard was a brothers plea/warning/concern (responsibility) to another... Really? And you're a pastor. Is that how you handle the people God has placed you over?

Tim Rogers

Mike,

Tell me one thing that I have expressed that is disingenuous, harsh, or any other word you want to use. You overlook Randal's constant barrage of negative comments and give him a pass as giving a "plea/warning/concern". And Yes, I am a pastor and, because of the Grace of God, a pretty descent one I might add. If a church member constantly stands up at the business meeting and openly disparages and gives personal opinions without pointing to precise evidence I tell him he needs to sit down and get evidence before calling something wrong. If he constantly does it I will take a deacon and go to visit him. If he continues sowing seeds of discord we will take the final step in church discipline. On the other hand, if I have a church member that stands in the public congregation and states that we have had a church member that is exposed as having a homosexual relationship and that is something that has made the public news, I will not speak ill of him for spreading gossip. Something you seem to be doing here as well as Randall.

Mike

First I do not know Randall from Adam. If he has posted here in the past and has been communicating a constant barrage of negative comments, I have not seen it. Not because he hasn't but because I do not visit this blog enough to know.
So what I read from him was in fact a plea/warning/concern. If it were not then my apologies. However based on what he wrote alone, that is what was communicated and thus was understood.
If in fact that is what was communicated, then your remark of "You do not have to stop by here and play the role of the Holy Spirit" was uncalled for. That is what I called you out on.
Tim you are reading too much into what I stated. Never, not once, did I mention anything in regards to the post. What I called out was you and your apparent sophomoric response to what Randall called you to. I have yet to take a position on what is transpiring regarding Merritt. I would like to know more information. If I am going to fault, I will fault on the side of grace.
Again, if I am wrong then please forgive me.

"...if I have a church member that stands in the public congregation and states that we have had a church member that is exposed as having a homosexual relationship and that is something that has made the public news, I will not speak ill of him for spreading gossip."
That is not what you meant to say is it?

Jayne Nelson

Once again you all who keep calling for 9Marks and Acts 29
type discipline...I would care to guess that you are related
distantly the the front row of people in the court yard
who yelled "Crucify Him" the loudest. No, I am not saying
Jonathan is without sin. Once again, can you tell I am
a older Sunday School teacher?...Who is our only judge?
That's right, GOD!!! As for church discipline, it is sorely
needed, when done according to God's word, as Don mentioned
above, "A hand-up for a brother/sister who has fallen".
Let me share my personal experience with Southern Baptist
Church discipline...please be patient:) My husband(a man),
our 2 children, and I(a woman) were long time members at
a prominent Southern Baptist Church, no not Snellville
First Baptist or Cross Pointe. There was an incident with
a husband abusing his wife, the church disciplined the man
and honored a restraining order against the husband. He
could not even come to Men's Prayer meeting. One of our
children was being stalked and verbally abused by a young
person who was not even a member at the time. We went to
the Pastor, Youth Pastor, Head of the Deacons, and our
Deacon representative. They did nothing except to say,
"What do you want blood?" We filed a restraining order
against the young person, THE CHURCH WOULD NOT HONOR IT!
Therefore, our child and the rest of us had to leave our
long time friends and church family. What I say is, be
careful that you ask for church discipline...because, if
the people who are disciplining are not without sin themselves...How can they truly help the fallen brother/
sister. Yes, we all have forgiven everyone involved a
long time ago. But, that young person was never disciplined
and neither were the parents(Who were members at the time)!
And the last time we heard from them they were still allowing their child(then a young adult living at home) to
abuse other young adults. So, brothers(Deacons)who discipline...make sure it is not a political(look the other
way for my real friends, discipline the ones I don't like)
choice.
To Jonathan,
My prayer for you and yours is that God's healing Grace
flow over you like a flood. There is an organization that
can help you, really help you,... Stephen's Ministry. It
is modeled after Stephen in the Bible. Remember, you have
many friends that actively follow Proverbs 17:17, just be
careful that it is the Biblical kind of friend, like Jonathan was to David.

Jayne

Lydia

Hi Sam,

I have neighbors that are gay and I asked them about "outing" people today at the pool. One is older, conservative, a pharmicist and monogomous. He thought it was horrible. The other is a professional but not monogamous at all. He is for carrying the banner high and outing people for the cause.

Now, when I asked about a well known Christian who has reached out to the gay community BOTH agreed he must be outed. Both thought it was living a lie. Of course, neither one believes he has a choice to be gay. But the conservative older one thinks he can and should be celebite (sp?) if he is gay.

I thought their reactions were interesting since neither one is a believer but both agreed about a gay Christian being outed. (Both grew up in church so it is not a question they have never heard about Jesus Christ)

Peter, We seem to dig deeper into the circus of Evangelicalism as we have different rules for our celebs than we do for the peasants. REading Setzers words (should he be writing on this?) I had flashbacks to the excuses given for Clinton. He is only human and talking about it is worse than what he did....Merritt has lived a lie. He made us think he was something else. If he had not sought celebrity, we would not be having this convo. But he did. And he did not admit what he did after his "remorse" and step down from any teaching function. Not well done at all.

But then, for many, ministry has become the professional career. First the MLM. The Environmental Manifesto, the SBC being homophobic and now this.

Lydia

"Indeed this is a local church issue. However, Merrrit, as Stetzer so willingly documents with accolades proport to minister to the universal church, as such this is a broader issue. Merritt made himself the voice in the broader arena."

Very true. Since Merritt seems to relish celebrity with books, articles, etc, then I can only warn people. And that I will do. Those who teach are held to a high standard. And besides that, not sure I trust him. Best he get out of any ministry position and seek humility before God.

People love to censor and accuse those warning of wolves or hirlings of gossip. They love their icons or they are scared, too.

Mary

I've been thinking alot today about how what we're seeing is a PCiefication of the church. If Jonathan Merritt had been "outed" as a racist - say someone produced emails where he's slurring and using racial epithats how much different the SBC community would be talking about this.

But because 1) he's a celebrity who has friends in high places and 2) because his sin is one of those PC sins we don't want to come down on; he's getting a pass and we hear about people being hateful, gossiping, admonished about church autonomy etc.

A church nobody's every heard of in somewhere Mississippi is "outed" with the sin of racism - demands and screams that this cannot be tolerated. No compassion, no church autonomy, no let the locals handle this, no let's let them work through this in their own way.

Both of this incidents will do harm to the body of Christ and to the SBC. BOTH of THEM. But one we're supposed to ignore because of the celebrity status of the sinner and the PCiefication about which sins we can condemn and which sins we're supposed to ignore and look the other way or else we are just haters. How do we know which sins we should stop talking about? Why Jonathan Merritt set himself up as the expert on that one.

selahV

Mary, I suppose the difference in the outrage at this time, may be that we have evidence of blatant racism perpetrated upon a couple of innocent people who simply wanted to be joined in marriage by a pastor at FBC Crystal Springs. No, I hadn't heard of that specific church, but the calling out of some within the congregation and those who enabled this to happen is without excuse at this point of discovery and reporting. Thus far, I haven't seen any comments or posts, from those who are supporting Jonathan with his recent admission(be it as weak as it appears), on the simultaneous exposure of blatant racism. While I do agree, it is a local matter, for their autonomous congregation, their action has long reaching tentacles to create as much havoc as what Jonathan's hidden sin and deception may reveal in our convention. I don't know what will play out as a result of the "outing" of Jonathan. But both sins are what they are...sin to be dealt with, confessed, repented of. I am equally disturbed by both and am deeply saddened for what this all says about the spiritual health of leaders, and those in higher places than the average pew-sitter in the SBC. I believe God is exposing the darkness within and prayerfully, we will bring it before His throne and ask for wisdom in admonishing and reproving in accordance with His Word.

I think Peter was no more guilty of reporting what he'd discovered about accusations against Jonathan than the people who are reporting on what the Ledger exposed regarding racist actions against Crystal Springs. To me, they are on equal footing. The irony, as you've noted, is that one sin is more politically correct than the other. And we, as Believers, will pay a price for condoning either, at any time, any place. Now, I must go work on that log in my eye. I can barely read my Sunday School lesson for its protrusion. God bless you and all of us who seek to honor Christ in word and deed. selahV

Mary

Harriette, I have no problem with the outrage over the racism, but the hypocrisy in how we treat sin. No one is talking about Jonathan Merritt because as I said his celebrity status, but, and this is where the hypocrisy is coming in because of the type of sin JM has been forced to admit to.

The people who are rightly outraged over the racism issue are talking hateful bloggers and hateful people who are discussing the JM case. So if in one case the reason to not speak of a self-appointed leader and the ramifications of his outing is autonomy, mercy etc why isn't that being applied in the other case?

Christians should be outraged by both cases, but because word has come down from the elites via Ed Stetzer that the peasants will be called names for talking about JM only the racism is allowed to be discussed on the blogs - not how we are tiptoing around our softening stance on homosexuality.

selahV

Mary, to your question: "why isn't that being applied in the other case?" Double set of standards. Motivation is absent. Fear of reprisal. Just to name a few. selahV

Mary

selahV, we understand each other :)

Lydia

I will add based on my experience in the mega seeker world that celebrity is a huge snare for a sin trap. They tend to live in a bubble and constant accolades surrounding themselves with like minds only.
They become insulated thinking they aren't because of their travels and exposure but they are insulated. Then as the star rises it becomes a push for the "next thing" be it a book, more speaking gigs, whatever. I have watched the trajectory up close with several and it is a sad thing. Few can really handle it and work hard at their "public persona".

Tim Rogers

Jayne,

After reading your post comparing kinship of those who are calling for transparency to those who yelled "Crucify Him", I have to admit yours is an absolute absurd comparison. However, I do not want to get caught up in that. I honestly want you to look at something seeing you have openly stated that you are a member at CP.

Jonathan Merritt said that his close friends were aware of his desire to go public. That is fine and I am certainly not going to question his intent. However, he also said that he was abused by an elderly man that lived in the community that he grew up in. Now, as a member of CP it is the responsibility of the church to make certain that man is revealed.

Charles

I've been waiting for Tom Ascol and his Flounder Friends to rush to the defense of the power brokers at FBC Crystal Springs. Maybe I'm wrong, help me out here. Isn't Ascol and his band of bloggers committed to reforming SBC churches back to the theology of the founders of the SBC? I know this theology provided a robust defense of the institution of slavery in the Southern states. Was it Dagg or Boyce who said, "I'm an ultra pro-slavery man!" I forget. Paging Dr. Nettles! Help us out, Tom!

Now I may have missed it but other than praise for his "courage," etc., I haven't seen much from the YRR crowd regarding young Merritt. Wonder why that is?

What a strange place the SBC is becoming!

Charles

Aaron O'Kelley

I think this is a teachable moment for evangelicals. I posted some thoughts on it here:

http://cruxchristi.wordpress.com/2012/07/31/the-battle-for-identity-why-jonathan-merritt-has-not-been-outed/

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