Of the four, it appears Driscoll is the moral cream of the crop. While he abused pastoral authority and was careless and sloppy with his writings, Driscoll's faithfulness to his family appears in tact. And what he may have done wrong at the now defunct Mars Hill Church, there seems to be no child abuse scandal looming in the dark background.
On the other hand, Mahaney suffers from what many judge as credible charges (though to be fair, no indictments) of covering for sexual predators; and sadly it looks like Tchividjian may be a serial adulterer.
The latest stunning disappointment for neo-Calvinists (and all Christians for that matter) is surely Tom Chantry, Pastor of Christ Reformed Baptist Church in Hales Corners, Wisconsin. Chantry was a favorite among Founders Ministries1 and Reformed Baptists of America. According to The Daily Courier located in Prescott, Arizona, Chantry faces eight counts of child molestation and aggravated assault of a minor reportedly committed while serving as pastor in the state between 1995 and 2001.
I believe in the hopeless moral depravity of all human beings as the Bible clearly teaches, a moral depravity from which no one is able to overcome and be delivered apart from the saving grace of Jesus Christ.
Know also that while the four men mentioned above have theological Calvinism in common, we cannot legitimately deduce that Calvinism per se leads to moral failure. It would not be difficult to produce a list of clergy spanning the entire theological spectrum of Christian belief whether denominational or independent, Liberal or Fundamentalist who have morally failed. Even so, it should remain alarming that so many of the most celebrated "popular" ministers who have recently been involved in moral controversy--and more alarming still potentially criminal controversy--are squarely within the Calvinist Resurgence in America.
What might we learn? Here's a few Take-Aways.
1) Correct theology does not guarantee correct behavior. While we often hear that erroneous doctrine breeds unethical behavior, it does not follow that unethical behavior always follows erroneous doctrine. Nor is it guaranteed that right belief always produces right behavior.
2) Being confessional alone accounts neither for cultural stability nor Church health. It's frequently maintained in Southern Baptist circles that the reason our denomination suffers and consequently is deteriorating is because we have become lax in our confessional commitments. Ironically, this notion almost always pops up in the more "Reformed" circles within the Southern Baptist Convention. Yet all men above personally believed in and belonged to strongly confessional communities of faith.
3) All parents should hesitate to be silent if they sense something just doesn't add up in the children's ministry at their local church. Indeed parents must demand their church have clearly communicated written policies and enforced procedures before they turn their children over to them.
4) No one is beyond deviant behavior. No one. All staff--including the senior pastor, especially the senior pastor--should have clear accountability structure in place to avoid even the appearance of moral impropriety. Church Policies should be designed to not only protect children from potential harm but also to protect staff and volunteers from potentially false claims.
5) Don't use the church's children's ministry as a free babysitting service. One of the best ways for parents of young children to remain confident that their church's children ministry remains healthy is to become personally involved in the children's ministry. Volunteer. Gladly get a background check (and wonder out loud if you're not asked to!). Take all the training you're offered. Become involved. Get to know your Children's Pastor (or Director). Be a part of making the Children's Ministry the safest place to be on Sunday.
Let the church of Jesus Christ pray for all the victims involved in this latest moral scandal. Let's pray for the churches involved, and also pray for the alleged perpetrators of these awful acts.
1Chantry's church is listed as a Founders-friendly church (12/6/2017)