Monday, October 30, 2006

What Would You Do?

Okay, here's one from the Suggestion Box...

If a respected staff member came to you with information and claimed to have documents that could hurt the office of the pastor, what would you do?

Please, try to separate the question from Mark Sharpe & Co., Dr. Gaines, and Bellevue and think in generalities.

1. Could you in good conscience keep it to yourself?

2. What steps would you take to try to resolve the issue?

3. How many months should you try to resolve the issue if there's no cooperation from the pastor?

4. Would Matthew 18 apply in a case like this? If so, and you attempted to follow Matthew 18 and got all the way to the step where you needed to take your issue before the church, how would you go about doing that?

5. What if you had a job in the secular world and a respected colleague came to you with information and documents about your boss that could hurt the company? Would you handle that situation any differently?

Again, regardless of your opinions about the current situation at Bellevue, try to think of a general situation without considering specific personalities and think about what you would do. We should all seek to know what Jesus would do, but what do you think Jesus would do?

Thanks to "eccl.7:25" for this topic suggestion.

42 comments:

TexasPastorJohn said...

I serve as a pastor in Texas, and have been overwhelmed with grief at this site and the intent and destruction this faction is bringing to BBC. Move to another Body of Believers, put away your bitterness, or at least stop the public embarrassment of the Body. My admonishment for every person involved in "Save Bellvue" (wow, there is a odd name) is to read every epistle by Paul - and then allow the Spirit to speak truth. Most of you have gotten caught up in Satan's number one goal - dirty up the Bride. You are helping him achieve that. Fast, pray, and tear your garments - the judgment you want to bring on Steve Raines will come on your heads and God may seem much more like a Judge to you one day than a King.
I pray for your entire church - that you all would be built up in PERFECT UNITY, and that Tennessee would know you are believes by your love for one another. (sound familiar?) Sad in Texas, John

Anonymous said...

John, I understand your concern. Please know that there is so much going on, and you're right Satan has been given a foothold in all places involved. Please continue to pray for us - we do indeed need to love one another. May God reveal Himself soon!

POSTED QUESTION -
Suppose a respected staff member came to you with information and documents that could hurt the office of the pastor, what would you do?

Necessary assumptions here:
Our scriptural expectation is for the pastor and the office of the pastor to be above reproach and so on.

Love is the motivator and regulator.

The "problem" was a moral, ethical or legal failure.

The problem was a conscious and intentional act and not accidental, nor did it result from oversight.

Also, let's assume that if the civil authorities, general public, church staff, or members were to know of the problem that they would overwhelmingly regard the problem as sin or as having broken the law of man.

And this may seem odd to include but in this day and age we must consider many things; let's assume also that there is no physical or serious mental or psychological harm happening to anyone at the time or that it is immanent. If this were the case and I had proved to myself that the accusations were true I would step in immediately with my staff brother and protect the person that the pastor was harming.

1. Could you in good conscience keep it to yourself?

Yes, up to and until additional people needed to be involved as indicated in the next answer. Further, I must, to the extent that every measure that can be taken is taken, protect the accused from accidental harm during the investigation phase - terribly difficult in most cases. Nontheless, great intentional care must be taken.


2. What steps would you take to try to resolve the issue?

Prayer, Fasting, Pleading for and with the offender.

I think the first order of business is to get before God, make sure I'm right with Him and ask Him for wisdom, strength, courage, humility, discernment, and a load of Love. I would ask for the Holy Spirit to guide me and guard me from myself, the world and the devil.

I would and must examine and prove to myself beyond any doubt whatsoever that the problem was real and the staffer and evidence was reliable and credible. And knowing me, I would approach it first by trying to disprove, with great diligence, the accusation. If I could not disprove it I would then seek to prove to myself (being of course reasonable in my mindset) that the problem is in fact real and true beyond any doubt whatsoever.

I believe the staffer would need to first approach the offender alone and in the appropriate manner.

If the offender refused to yield I would seek to add a significant 3rd party (Pastor's peer, Chairman of the Deacons, etc.), allow him to examine the testimony and evidence and then ask him to join us in pleading with the offender to set right what is wrong.

3. How many months should you try to resolve the issue if there's no cooperation from the pastor?

For the sake of allowing every opportunity to the offender (thank you Jesus for the grace you extend to me) I would tend to go slowly and give every, beyond reasonable, opportunity to resolve the problem in a way that maximizes the Glory to God and the benefit to the offender. BUT there would come a day and likely not many weeks that the hardness of the offender's heart would have to be honored.


4. Would Matthew 18 apply in a case like this? If so, and you attempted to follow Matthew 18 and got all the way to the step where you needed to take your issue before the church, how would you go about doing that?

The next step I would take is for the three of us to present the testimony and evidence to the church leadership. Not hearing the charges would not be an option. The leadership would need to join us three in approaching the offender appropriately and properly and with determination. If he did not yield still, I believe the testimony, evidence and charges would then need to come before the congregation. They could then vote him out if they saw fit and civil authorities notified if appropriate. And no, the pastor would not be given a good reference.

In some cases where the church is part of a denomination where the pastor had a superior that he answered to, that or those superiors would replace the subordinate church leadership step.

If the superiors did nothing or their efforts did not result in proper and complete resolution then I might need to move my "membership" - but again that would be God's call and I would have to hear from Him on that. I can think of legitimate reasons to stay and I'm sure He can think of even more.

If the church leadership failed to act I would move on to the congregational stage. If the congregation failed to act and the offense were legal in nature I would abandon that church body and alert the authorities of the offense for proper and right handling of the problem.
Or,depending on the nature of the offense and if the congregational stage failed, I might seek additional people such as significant peers to confidentially pray, fast, and approach the pastor until he relented or God took him out. (I know, I know – where's the love? But does God stop loving when he judges – no. For Him to remain who He is, justice must ultimately be served and that is for Him to handle. And I'm sure He's got the love covered as well.)


5. What if you had a job in the secular world and a respected colleague came to you with information and documents about your boss that could hurt the company? Would you handle that situation any differently?

For the sake of conscience I would have to act and would likely take a similar approach to the above.

Whew...

New BBC Open Forum said...

TX pastor,

Uh... I believe you're off topic.

"I serve as a pastor in Texas... "

Hmmm... Do you serve, or do you rule? If I were a betting person, I'd bet on the latter.

"Move to another Body of Believers, put away your bitterness, or at least stop the public embarrassment of the Body."

Here we go again. "If you don't like it, leave." And you aren't even here! Sir, I'm not bitter, although if I thought the majority of pastors showed as much "love" towards those with whom they happen to disagree as you, I might be very bitter. I'm saddened, sometimes frustrated, and yes, occasionally even a little angry, although by the grace of God it usually passes quickly, and one of my greatest desires right now is for healing and reconciliation at Bellevue -- but not at the expense of truth. Without truth there can never be real healing or reconciliation. I can tell you that if there's been any wrongdoing if Dr. Gaines and/or Mark Sharpe, depending on who's in the wrong, comes forward, repents, and asks for forgiveness, that the people of Bellevue will forgive just about anything and embrace them both. I'm sure I speak for a lot of others when I say that. But bitter I'm not, nor do I see much bitterness in evidence in this forum. If I were bitter, I'd have left the church years ago because there do seem to be plenty of things one could be bitter about there.

As for causing the "Body" embarrassment, do you not think Dr. Gaines' performance in Union City, just to name one example, wasn't an embarrassment? How about checking (or having someone else check for him) the tithing records (and who knows what else) of those in "leadership" positions, including ushers and soloists, in his former church (and probably in Bellevue, too)? As in, "I don't want Betty the Bank Robber warbling about Jesus." Cute.

"My admonishment for every person involved in "Save Bellvue" (wow, there is a odd name) is to read every epistle by Paul - and then allow the Spirit to speak truth. Most of you have gotten caught up in Satan's number one goal - dirty up the Bride. You are helping him achieve that. Fast, pray, and tear your garments - the judgment you want to bring on Steve Raines will come on your heads and God may seem much more like a Judge to you one day than a King."

I have read them, although my garments have remained, for the most part, unripped.

First of all, "we" are not affiliated with the "Saving Bellevue" site other than through mutual links on our sites. "We" are not "they."

Second, it's "Gaines," Dr. Steve Gaines, not "Raines." And the topic, while related to the issues at Bellevue, was intended to spawn a discussion about how one should handle these situations in a general sense. I take it you would advise everyone in a church who is facing a similar situation to just bury their heads in the sand or follow blindly.

And third, I have no desire, nor is it my place to "bring judgement" on Dr. Gaines. The truth is the truth, and the truth needs to come out. I've asked before, and I'll ask of you as well, just where do you draw the line? Regarding pastors in general, are we just supposed to overlook any and all incidences of wrongdoing (in this case alleged), no matter how serious? Really, I'm struggling with this and would like to know.

Your last statement reminds me of the "bears" story. I get the impression this is really your desire for those of us who have been called "the adversaries" -- that a big, old lightning bolt with our names on it would be hurled from the heavens and zap us all in our tracks.

"I pray for your entire church - that you all would be built up in PERFECT UNITY, and that Tennessee would know you are believes by your love for one another. (sound familiar?) Sad in Texas, John "

Thank you for your first thought. We need it. As for the rest, are you advocating the same kind of "love" you've expressed for us? If so, you're right, Pastor John. That is sad -- in Tennessee, too.

Churchmouse said...

There are some factors that have to be weighed into our decision about "What Would You Do?".
(1) Our struggle is not just with the leadership at Bellevue, but against problems that are bigger than Bellevue and the Southern Baptist Convention. What we decide to do about our problem, because of Bellevue's visability, will influence others outside our church. This should be reflected in our decision.
(2) If we decide to just find another church (cut and run) the advisary may follow us. hmmmmmm
(3) If we leave the problem for someone else to fix, how do we live in peace with our conscience and our Lord? ie."I am just going to sit back and watch. I saw another conflict once and it was uuuugly. I don't want to loose friends, hurt someone's feelings, or ruin my reputation."
(4) Is this a family business/church that you LOVE so much you would die for it? If so, how do you turn your back when you see your family/business in crisis?
WE LOVE YOU, BELLEVUE (shouting)
That's why we aren't leaving.WE LOVE YOU TOO MUCH TO WALK AWAY AND LEAVE YOU.

Lwood said...

I just want to say AMAN (SHOUTING) to churchmouse.....We (our Family) love Bellevue and feel it is worth fighting for...We need to be a lighthouse for the movement againt the Rick Warren movement....We need to stand our ground . I do believe Dr. Rogers would do the same. He fought for the SBC and I think he would fight this.

ilovebbc said...

Lwood,

This discussion probably belongs on the thread about the PD movement but since you posted on this thread, I'll reply to it here and ask if you were aware that Dr. Rogers said, ""Rick Warren has been used to challenge my thinking in the area of church growth in an incredible way. This book - [Purpose Driven Church] - is on the must-read list for every pastor."--Adrian Rogers, Pastor, Bellevue Baptist Church, Memphis, Tennessee

On http://completethetask.org/,
a site carrying on Dr. Rogers mission and passion to train preachers, there is a link on the resources tab to

Purpose Driven Church
The Purpose Driven paradigm is a church health model to help your church get in shape to live out its God-given purposes.
www.pastors.com

Again, moderator, I know this doesn't belong on this thread but I didn't really want to post my reply elsewhere to the comment lwood made here. So move hers and my comments if you like.

By the way, I'm not saying yea or nay to the pdl movement. I just had to respond when the comment was made that Dr. Rogers would be a lighthouse against Rick Warren.

Churchmouse said...

ilovebbc said: Dr. Rogers said, ""Rick Warren has been used to challenge my thinking in the area of church growth in an incredible way. This book - [Purpose Driven Church] - is on the must-read list for every pastor."--Adrian Rogers, Pastor, Bellevue Baptist Church, Memphis, Tennessee

I would respectfully ask that you leave Dr. Rogers out of this. The Word of God should be our final standard by which we test a doctrine.

Tony said...

I'll have to agree with churchmouse that you [Bellevue] are nationally known and there are people who are watching. Some are the morbid "want to see the fight" individuals while others view to see how the situation is handled.

I myself, being a former member of Gardendale's FBC when Brother Steve was there, have an interest in that 1.) The revelation of these incidents has provided support to feelings I and my wife have had concerning Brother Steve in the past. They also support discussions we've had with other members whose observations where similar to ours. 2.) Having moved to another church (not because of Brother Steve's influence) I want to know how to handle such matters should they arise. I hear talk of Matthew 18 but this is the first time I’ve ever seen it implemented and I applaud the efforts of all those who have followed the teachings of scripture in search of the truth.

This forum has been a great educational tool for me in understanding the inner workings of the Baptist church. I've been impressed with how the dialog, for the most part, has been caring and courteous and relevant to the issue. The love and compassion of the member of Bellevue is clearly evident.

As I mentioned, I’m a member at a new church south of Birmingham, AL and I was approached by another church member Wednesday evening. He knew I had come from Gardendale and he was inquiring on my thoughts regarding Brother Steve’s actions while he served. He also went on to tell me that his parents were members at Germantown First Baptist and that they had recently had an incident in there church. He didn’t expound upon this incident and I didn’t reveal to him what I knew about Bellevue regarding the “Saving Bellevue” site or this forum. I did share with him my encounters and experiences with Brother Steve at Gardendale.

All this to say, the forum is open to the world and they are watching. I personally am interested in how the truth will be attained. I’m sure there are many out there who are praying and fasting and also looking for the truth.

Regarding Brother Steve; I have my own dislikes regarding his actions. I see in him now what should have been apparent back then [in Gardendale]. Brother Steve is a smart individual. A sharp orator, he has the ability to speak the word of God in a manner that is both educational and understandable. Yet, with the same tongue he can deftly turn a sad situation around and get the audience laughing (as he did when addressing the fence incident). He has the potential to be a caring person as was exhibited when he first came to Gardendale. I want to say “Be wary, Bellevue” but I don’t think I need to. You are handling things as they should be. I will continue to be in prayer for you and Brother Steve.

In Christ,
Tony

ilovebbc said...

Churchmouse,

I was only replying to lwood's comment where she said "We need to be a lighthouse for the movement againt the Rick Warren movement....We need to stand our ground . I do believe Dr. Rogers would do the same. " I merely wondered if she was aware of his endorsements.

MOM4 said...

“I cannot say that I know God is going to fully recover me, but I can say I believe He will. I really do, and I’m not just blowing smoke. ... I have a good confidence in my heart. In the meanwhile, I am not morose or unhappy. I don’t dwell on this. I just do the best I can and enjoy life.”

The above is a statement taken from the "Florida Baptist Witness" interview. It was made by Dr Adrian Rogers not too long before he went home.
I am posting it here because I know in my heart that Dr Rogers' walk with the Lord was the closest you could have on this side of Glory. Yet he felt that the Lord was going to heal him, which He did, He took him home for the ultimate healing.
This goes to show that while on this earth we most certainly look thru the glass darkly.
I have trouble believing that Dr Rogers would have allowed the dumbing down and lowering the standards of the Lord's church to attract the world and drag it's values into our midst.

ilovebbc said...

In my reply to lwood, I didn't mean to get us off the topic of this thread. I expect the moderator would want us to get back on the topic of "what would you do?"

New BBC Open Forum said...

mom4, ilovebbc,

No problem. You can continue the PD discussion in that thread.

New BBC Open Forum said...

andrew, mkw,

Thank you for your well thought out responses. I'm still digesting them, but you both make some interesting points.

trustme said...

Many feel that any staff that has knowledge and will not speak up with the truth, will have to find another church to serve if Brother Steve leave for any reason. How can these men teach about truth and yet will not stand up?

How can former and current staff, Godly men like Craig, David, Jim and Bryson not stand up for what they know to be the truth? I am praying for you men that you will stand up and speak the truth.

stillwaitingandwatching said...

MKW said...
"This is just a thought, but perhaps the silence of these former staff members IS their way of speaking the truth."

Or they *may* have had to sign non-disclosure statements in order to continue to receive their benefits or compensation.

John McVay said...

"If a respected staff member came to you with information and documents that could hurt the office of the pastor, what would you do? Please, try to separate the question from Mark Sharpe & Co., Dr. Gaines, and Bellevue and think in generalities."

Your set-up immediately biases the question toward the MS&Co. crowd because it implies that there are in fact documents that prove that the pastor and/or others have engaged in unBiblical financial practices. To my knowledge, only allegations have been made. There has yet to be produced a single shred of hard evidence that shows that any financial misdeeds have taken place. If they exist, why have they not been produced?

"1. Could you in good conscience keep it to yourself?"

If I had the evidence to show it? No. If all I had was someone’s testimony and no evidence? Yes, regardless of how much I respect and trust the person passing on the information. Because until some hard evidence is put forth, it boils down to one man’s word against another and nothing is accomplished.

"2. What steps would you take to try to resolve the issue?"

If the allegation were serious enough, I would take it before the God-ordained authorities (under whom I am commanded to be subject to) and let them investigate the supposed offense. I would in no way demand “my right to know” (I am dead to my “rights” in Christ anyway) or demand that the alleged offenders prove that they didn’t do it. (How do you prove that you didn’t do something, anyway?)

"3. How many months should you try to resolve the issue if there's no cooperation from the pastor?"

If the God-ordained authorities will not abide by scripture then you should find a church where scripture is not only taught but practiced. Who determines what ‘cooperation’ is anyway? According to the MS&Co crowd, cooperation is according to their terms and no one else’s. As with every issue, things must be judged in light of the Word and not what “I-have-my-right-ers” demand, cooperation is no different.

"4. Would Matthew 18 apply in a case like this? If so, and you attempted to follow Matthew 18 and got all the way to the step where you needed to take your issue before the church, how would you go about doing that?"

Matthew 18 only applies if in fact a sin is known to have occurred. Thus far, no sin of financial misconduct has been shown to occur, only allegations of sin; therefore Mt 18 cannot be applied. Scripture says that we are to show the brother his sin, not question him to see if he has sinned and then demand that he prove that he hasn’t. If this cannot be done, then Mt 18 does not apply. If it can be shown that the brother has committed a sin and he is aware of it, I would take it before the church, but not the world.

1Co 6:1 Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust [world], and not before the saints?
1Co 6:4 If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church.
1Co 6:5 I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren?
1Co 6:6 But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers.
1Co 6:7 Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?
1Co 6:8 Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren.

MS&Co has an accusation, Gaines&Co have accusation and incriminating evidence in the form of this website. So which side should be taken before the church? “But they won’t let us take it before the church!” I’m sorry, but scripture offers no ‘out’ because you don’t get your way. When it is taken before the world it is sin, per these verses. “Without stutter, stammer or equivocation”, to quote Pastor Rogers.

"5. What if you had a job in the secular world and a respected colleague came to you with information and documents about your boss that could hurt the company? Would you handle that situation any differently?"

Again, no, not if the documentation was available and sufficient to support the claim. But if it is only a claim, regardless of the trustworthiness of the claimer, I would not act on it. That is why God has given us an authority structure to follow; they are not answerable to me, they are answerable to their authorities and ultimately Him. Demanding “my right to know” is not allowed in scripture.

"Again, regardless of your opinions about the current situation at Bellevue, try to think of a general situation without considering specific personalities and think about what you would do. We should all seek to know what Jesus would do, but what do you think Jesus would do?"

Jesus was all-knowing, He knew when people had sinned whether there was any external evidence or not. We, being finite, are not privy to such information and therefore we must act on the evidence at hand, if there is any.

John McVay

debtoralive said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
New BBC Open Forum said...

John McVay wrote:

"Your set-up immediately biases the question toward the MS&Co. crowd because it implies that there are in fact documents that prove that the pastor and/or others have engaged in unBiblical financial practices. To my knowledge, only allegations have been made. There has yet to be produced a single shred of hard evidence that shows that any financial misdeeds have taken place. If they exist, why have they not been produced?"

Please go back and read my original post. I didn't mean to imply anything. It was a hypothetical question. It was, however, a question that closely parallels what "M.S & Co." for some totally inexplicable reason have put themselves and their families through all this grief to resolve. Your implication that my question is biased only illustrates your own bias.

I wrote: "If a respected staff member came to you with information and documents that could hurt the office of the pastor, what would you do?

I should have worded that, "If a respected staff member came to you with information and claimed to have documents that could hurt the office of the pastor, what would you do?" Yes, I like that better, and I'll change it.

Then I wrote: "Please, try to separate the question from Mark Sharpe & Co., Dr. Gaines, and Bellevue and think in generalities."

That was my attempt, apparently one you could see straight through {wink, wink}, at removing any known personalities from the argument and generating a discussion of how one would handle such a hypothetical situation.

After your initial comments, you proceeded to answer questions that weren't asked, again showing your own bias.

TexasPastorJohn said...

to new BBC open forum...

I really feel like the calling of a pastor is to serve and shepherd, then lead...never to rule or lord over (you know that's Paul's admonishment). So don't put too much money on the table for the bet.
Thanks for the courtesy of "sir" but brother is fine...i would place my bet on us being close to the same age - guessing from the rhythm of your words. Romans 13:13 and 2 Cor 12:20 speak so directly to arguments, dissensions, and factions.
Sorry about the slip of the "G" and "R" - I really do know his name is Gaines. Your observation and then comment on that is fairly telling my friend.
My aim was really much more prayer and encouragement - I am not walking in your shoes...just a little overwhelmed with the loud minority. I guess that is where my "leave" statement came from. My brothers and sisters who attend BBC share that numbers, baptisms, salvations, and majority voices are all fruitful and supportive. Maybe their perspective is off, or maybe it is yours. I am in no position to make that call my brother. So I will let my last BBC blog simply say that your church is loved, you are loved, and I desire like I know you desire to "above all else brothers to keep peace among yourselves." God bless you BBC Open Blog Forum.

New BBC Open Forum said...

texaspastorjohn wrote:

"So I will let my last BBC blog simply say that your church is loved, you are loved, and I desire like I know you desire to "above all else brothers to keep peace among yourselves." God bless you BBC Open Blog Forum."

Thank you, Brother John. Are you really the same "texaspastorjohn" who wrote the first comment in this thread?

May God bless you, too.

NBBCOF

Josh Tucker said...

NBBCOF,

Mr. McVay's assertion about bias is correct given the original wording of the questions. Why ask these questions in the first place if they are only hypotheticals and do not match the situation at hand? In saying that, what was your point with this thread if it not meant to have us re-enact the situation from Mark Sharpe's point of view?

Your line of questioning parallels in detail our current situation, except for one crucial aspect -- the documents. Everyone is aware of the similarity your are drawing upon, and you are providing a suggestive form of legitimacy by inserting crucial bits of evidence into your questions in the form of the documents.

Granted, you have now changed the wording of the post, but you now should stop at question number 1 or 2. The rest of your line of questioning relies upon an assumption of guilt.

TexasPastorJohn said...

new bbc open forum:
ha! yes...one in the same. If the tone was different then I apologize for the inconsistencies. Temper your zeal with knowledge and wisdom brother...i can tell from your words in several blogs that you are passionate, in love with Jesus and His church, and really want the best for BBC. My encouragement (and i took yours) is to carefully keep in step with the Spirit in all things there. Be a leader in peace, be a servant of all, and fight for unity. your brother, john

New BBC Open Forum said...

texaspastorjohn wrote: "If the tone was different then I apologize for the inconsistencies."

I liked the tone of the last two better. I'll consider the first one to be the inconsistent one.

Thank you.

New BBC Open Forum said...

Tim,

You summed it up nicely. Apparently those claiming to have the information are asking for some sort of protection, the details of which I'm not completely certain. Former employees (maybe current as well) are said to have been required to sign non-disclosure agreements, so there is apparently a legal aspect involved.

I agree that the longer this goes unresolved the more damage is being done. I'm reminded of the saying, "God helps those who help themselves." God will ultimately decide what happens, but I don't think He always wants us to just sit around waiting either. Your story is a testament to that fact. You could have done nothing and could probably still have your old job (assuming the partners didn't destroy each other and take the company down with them when the truth was revealed), but you did the right thing, and you were rewarded for it.

Your experience and your willingness to share it really puts this into perspective for me. Thank you.

allofgrace said...

nbbcof,
Not to be nitpicking here, but the saying, "God helps those who helps themselves" is more of an Americanism, that anything of real theological content. God helps those who understand they cannot help themselves. "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble." You're spot on about our responsibility though. God is sovereign...man is responsible. God accomplishes His ends, through the means of second causes, ie: our actions. For a good Biblical example of the connection between divine decree and human responsibility see Daniel 9:2-19. As Daniel read the prophet Jeremiah, he saw that Israel's captivity would end after 70 yrs...the time was close. Daniel, being also a prophet, knew that what God had declared through Jeremiah would surely come to pass...you could take it to the bank..it was as good as done...but he also understood human responsibility and it's connection to divine decree, ie: his prayer of repentance for himself and all Israel. God would free Israel from captivity, through the means of the prayers and repentance of His people. Ok, sorry..I can't help myself sometimes..I'll shut up now.

New BBC Open Forum said...

allofgrace,

Okay, I figured someone was going to point that out! :-) Now, there was a reason I didn't quote a scripture reference for that. It's because, as you said, it's not in the Bible! Neither are a lot of the "Adrianisms" we hear quoted so often either, but that doesn't make them irrelevant. You seemed to have grasped my meaning though -- which is that the Lord, while He wants us to trust completely in Him, doesn't necessarily expect us to sit on our hands (or some other body part) and just wait. Sometimes He does, but if we took that approach to everything, we'd eventually starve to death and nothing would ever get done. If you're sick, you should certainly pray for healing, but it doesn't mean you don't go to the doctor in the meantime.

My point was saying, "Let's just ignore the problem and let the Lord take care of it," whatever "it" might be, isn't always scriptural. Yet that seems to be the attitude of many in our church right now. I'm not talking about the ones who have examined what evidence is available (which right now isn't much, at least to the majority of us) or the explanations offered by Dr. Gaines and the others and decided for themselves that there really is nothing to be concerned about. The ones I'm referring to are the "Stepford sheep" who want to bury their heads in the sand and not think for themselves. The "if there's a problem God will take care of it in time" crowd. As someone pointed out, if Dr. Rogers and other SBC leaders had taken that approach, the conservative changes we've witnessed in the SBC would have never occurred. (People will always argue over the appropriateness of those changes, but that's not my intent here.) Ecclesiastes 3 tells us there's a time for everything. The struggle we sometimes face is knowing God's timing is and what we need to do (or don't need to do), in other words, the role we're expected to play. I'm sure my exegesis (if that's the proper word) is oversimplified, after all I'm no theologian, amateur or otherwise, but again, you got my drift.

It's like the farmer who bought a piece of land and planted a corn crop on it. The corn grew high and was the envy of all the other farmers. One day one of the farmer's neighbors said to him, "God sure has been good to you with that crop." The farmer said, "Yes, God has been good, but you should have seen that field back there when God had it all to Himself."

debtoralive said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
ezekiel1824 said...

texapastorjohn.......

I address this to you simply because if anyone can understand me and this situation it should be you with the veiw from your position, experience and training. However, I sincerely hope that other pastors and specifically ours is looking/listening.

The tone of your posts changed markedly between the first and the last and I thank you for that.
There is a lot of discussion about the members ability to question leadership and a lot of folks telling us to leave if we don't like it. And frankly a lot of folks doing just that.

I just read 3John and Rev 2 today. Paul obviously had a problem with a church leader called Diotrephes that odly enough sounds a lot like a lot of folks around here these days. In revelations, Jesus commends the church at Ephesus for "putting to the test those who call themselves Apostles"

As I understand it I am part of the Body. I might only be the little toe but if I am cut and bleeding the head hears about it real quick. I trust the head to bandage me and heal me, not cut me off and throw me in the trash.

My point is that as part of the body we all have our jobs to do and have been given gifts to do them. There would be no disagreement here if there was total truth and light. If those asking the questions were promptly shown the truth and light they may have been roundly humiliated and the rest of the body would have thought twice the next time something came up.

But they were not. Why not? So far the response has been "do as I say and don't question me"? (Diotrephes?

The way I see it everyone can win here, if we expose all to the light and love and forgive all. No one has anything to loose doing this. But keep things in the dark and we walk in Satan's back yard.

There is only one head of the church that I have read about and that is JESUS. The rest of us are all parts of the body and the church will walk with a limp if I am gone. Where will the head be if he cuts all his parts off and askes them to leave?

lovethechurch said...

To everyone at Bellevue,

I have been reading the blogs and websites over the last several weeks and have formed a few observations. I am a pastor in Alabama and don’t know anyone involved personally so I have no dog in the fight except that it pains me to see a church in turmoil.

Some say Dr. Rogers did this or did that, he enriched my life, was a great pastor/Shepard, was a humble man, etc. etc. and Dr. Gaines is not. Then in another post someone will say that a certain Bellevue Policy (ex. Not publishing individual pastoral salaries) was begun under Dr. Rogers’ leadership and the response will be that what Dr. Rogers did has nothing to do with what is happening now. The ultimate statement is those who say what worked under Dr. Rogers is not working under Dr. Gaines.

Many of us on the outside see these comments as indicative of a group of people who do not like Dr. Gaines and will not be satisfied with anything less than his removal.

Another confusing line of thought is the one that says because Mr. Sharpe says he has heard former/current staff members make accusations or that he has seen documents proving that Dr. Gaines has behaved inappropriately, then that is enough evidence. Then others will counter with Scripture that says we are not to consider accusations against an elder unless it’s by 2 or more witnesses. The response is generally the same, “The accusers won’t come forward without protection because they fear for their jobs. Therefore we can continue on believing the accusations. Further Dr. Gaines could prove his innocence by showing receipts and other evidence.”

Many of us on the outside see this as presumed guilty until proven innocent and a group of people disregarding Scripture.

The fence climbing incident will probably go down in church history as one of the dumbest things ever done by church leaders. I hope that all of the men involved will personally contact Mr. Sharpe and others in the neighborhood to apologize. Confessing and apologizing before the entire church was a great first step by Mr. Taylor and Dr. Gaines.

An overall tone in many of the comments indicate a battle for who controls the church. Those opposed to Dr. Gaines use words and phrases like “approved by the church”, “elect representatives” to examine records, “let’s have a business meeting”, one even suggested basically a trial setting complete with a jury made up of 12 deacons! While those in support of Dr. Gaines talk about following God’s man, pastoral leadership and the like.

This is not only a battle at Bellevue but in many SBC churches. I believe this battle is a direct result of the conservative takeover Dr. Rogers and others spearheaded in the 80’s. Let me try to explain.

The primary issue was inerrancy of Scripture, which is hill that I too will die, A result of the battle is that seminaries began to hire professors who taught this and these same seminaries educated young ministers to believe this and teach this. The problem comes when Scripture collides with tradition. Now you have young men reading 1 Timothy, Titus and other scriptures and see a church governance that is not congregationally based. They study and see that congregational approval is an American innovation based more on our country’s chosen form of government (btw, we are a representative republic not a democracy). Now these young men are leading churches and putting what they were taught in seminary into practice. This is tough when you attempt to do it in a context that has been congregationally ruled for the entirety of it’s existence. When you couple that with human being’s natural aversion to change the result is incendiary.

That being said, I have read or heard (I could have missed it because I don’t listen to everything Dr. Gaines says or has ever said) nothing from Dr. Gaines that indicates that it is his intention to transition Bellevue to an elder form of government like Dr. Shaw attempted to do at Germantown. It appears to me that many fear he will and they are lighting a backfire against the perceived coming attack.

Sadly I don’t possess the wisdom to solve this problem nor is it my responsibility. All I know is that it’s sad to see and I pray that God will untangle the knot that is being held on both sides at Bellevue.

Blessings

oldtimer said...

lovethechurch

I have asked and none of the men climbing the fence have called Richard Emerson. I know for a fact where he lives and these men should call him as he is associated with this and Mr. Sharpe. I also heard at a meeting that the pastor gossiped about Richard and never has asked for forgivness.

Josh Tucker said...

oldtimer,

Be careful, that's hearsay about the gossip charge.

westtnbarrister said...

Lovethechurch said, "This is not only a battle at Bellevue but in many SBC churches. I believe this battle is a direct result of the conservative takeover Dr. Rogers and others spearheaded in the 80’s."

I think you are right on target with that statement. The core problem at Bellevue is one of church government. We've unwittingly moved away from traditional congregational polity. Congregational authority is in name only. The real power has gradually been delegated to a handful of men. We don’t say we are elder led, but we have a de facto elder system. Except for the chairman and a few others, our deacons are seemingly powerless.

This system may have worked fine during the tenure of Dr. Rogers. Even though it was worked, it shouldn't have been allowed because of the precedent it set.

Part of the reason so many are upset now is they realize much has gone on (or may be, we don't fully know what has really happened) they would not have approved of had they been kept informed. The world can see what happens when even a deacon, Mark Sharpe, tried to find answers to questions. He is crucified for doing what many of us believe was his holy obligation.

Major decisions have been made with no involvement from the congregation. We are fast moving toward a seeker-sensitive model that many of us find troubling and unbiblical. Yet, the congregation had no say.

Church growth gurus advise modernizing the church services to make them relevant. The claim our worship styles are outdated and to grow, we must have broader appeal. They see worship style as merely a matter of personal preference, as if selecting the proper mix from the worship menu guarantees success. They talk about the right way to “do church.”

This is nonsense. God cares how He is worshiped. The first murder occurred when God disapproved of Cain’s sacrifice. So, it’s no small thing to change our worship and I believe the Bellevue congregation should have a say in it. Our worship is not about what we want or what our pastor wants. It is all about what He wants. As Dr. Albert Mohler has written, “Our confused worship corrupts our theology and our weak theology corrupts our worship.”

I could write at great length on this topic, but I will spare you all. Suffice it to say, I believe the issues are much greater than fence-jumping and expensive steaks. Regardless of what our pastor has or has not done, the genesis of this conflict can be traced back to the moment Bellevue members began ceding congregational authority.

New BBC Open Forum said...

WTB,

It's a slippery slope, and you summed it up nicely.

Press here.

NASS

westtnbarrister said...

Pardon my typos on my last post and in my other posts. I really should have taken typing in high school.

If only I'd known about the whole computer revolution...

TexasPastorJohn said...

Thanks for the invite to jump back in. Jesus said to be "wise as a snake, but harmless as a dove" so i do continue to write with a little trepidation. I am not there and I don't know what is really going on...but from everything i have read, no one really knows what is going on. That is leadership's fault. BUT I am still burdened by tones, sarcasm, and mean-spiritedness in so much of the blogs and websites. I have prayed Ephesians 4:1-6 for you guys several times the past few weeks. Philippians 2 might be a good chapter for all bloggers and mediators and staff to read, then read again. God bless BBC and may He continue to work through you despite the lack of "oneness" i see from a few states away. By the way, I would skip most of the blogs that skip God's Word as a basis for dialogue.

allofgrace said...

texaspastorjohn,
Thank you for your concern. I just had a question for you..then one comment...the question first: what blogs and websites are you referring to? Besides Savingbellevue.com and this blog, I don't know of any others pertaining to Bellevue. My only comment is: I'll grant that there have been some comments made that were on the vitriolic side...I won't make any excuses for that...we never have an excuse for sin. But just as an observation, I think a lot of the raw emotion that's coming out is some grief still remaining over Dr Rogers. Even though it's been almost a year, there are people here who sat under him for many years. Dr Rogers was a beloved pastor, who loved this congregation, and never failed or faltered in showing that. I'm not saying he was perfect..I know he wasn't...but he loved his flock. I think most of us are just confused, and perhaps a little scared about all that's going on..and I think that just magnifies how much Dr Rogers is missed...maybe I've got it wrong...certainly wouldn't be the first time, and I'm sure it won't be the last. Don't judge us too harshly. We're in God's hand, and I believe He will bring us through this stronger than before. Thanks much for your prayers.

John McVay said...

NBBCOF: Your implication that my question is biased only illustrates your own bias.

Thank you for your response. There is no question that both sides in this issue are biased. The question is which bias is the correct bias? Is it Biblical to assume someone is guilty until proven innocent? Is it Biblical to take the in-house dispute before the world? I don’t see how you could not mean to imply anything and, in the same breath, admit the question closely parallels what “M.S. & Co.” have done.

Your new question is much more appropriate to the situation hand; thank you for amending it. I, however, stand by my previous post. The names can be changed to “the accuser” and “the accused” if you prefer, but my choices in the matter would not differ.

NBBCOF: "Please, try to separate the question from Mark Sharpe & Co., Dr. Gaines, and Bellevue and think in generalities."

An admirable task, but given the nature of this website and rumors that are flying, it is hardly possible to separate the issues from the personalities. If generalities were your aim why not post the following questions:

1) You are the new pastor of a large suburban church, recently a group of men have made claims against you that you know to be false. They present no evidence to you showing that you have sinned (as scripture demands), yet they insist that you have. How would handle it?
2) Would you follow God’s Word and attempt to be reconciled with the brother, even if it meant breaking man’s law and crossing private property?
3) The group, not being satisfied with your answers, will not respect the God-ordained authority structure within the church and decides to take the issue before the public (contrary to I Cor. 6), how long would you wait before engaging in church discipline for their unbiblical actions?

I shudder to think of the responses Mike Bratton would get were he to post questions such as these on his blog and then claim that he did not mean to imply anything .

You see, the problem is not the legitimacy of your questions, it is that they only reflect one side of the issue, whether intended or not.

NBBCOF: After your initial comments, you proceeded to answer questions that weren't asked, again showing your own bias.

After re-reading my post, I fail to see what you mean. It seems that I answered each question fully and completely. Could you give an example or some specifics? What question did I answer that was not asked or was not relevant to the questions that were asked?

John McVay

New BBC Open Forum said...

john mcvey wrote:

"1) You are the new pastor of a large suburban church, recently a group of men have made claims against you that you know to be false. They present no evidence to you showing that you have sinned (as scripture demands), yet they insist that you have. How would handle it?"

Surely you can do better than that! How do you know the "new pastor" knows the claims made against him are false? Returning to M.S. & Co. (and this situation and related issues are the reason this "blog" came into existence), he and the witnesses claim to have repeatedly asked for an audience with "the accused" to present their evidence, only to be denied that audience. This of course was after Mark Sharpe met with Dr. Gaines alone and was reportedly dismissed.

Perhaps a better question would be, "Would you meet with this person individually, and if not, would you agree to meet with him and two or three witnesses?" However, the questions I posed were not asked from the pastor's standpoint but from the accuser's. Still, I think looking at a similar (i.e. generic) situation from a pastor's viewpoint might be interesting. Maybe Brother Steve would read it and get some ideas for how to handle his own situation if his usual spiritual advisors aren't providing enough guidance. Somehow I think they probably are though.

"After re-reading my post, I fail to see what you mean. It seems that I answered each question fully and completely. Could you give an example or some specifics? What question did I answer that was not asked or was not relevant to the questions that were asked?"

Okay, just to name a couple, which illustrate what I perceived to be the main theme of your responses:

"If all I had was someone’s testimony and no evidence? Yes, regardless of how much I respect and trust the person passing on the information. Because until some hard evidence is put forth, it boils down to one man’s word against another and nothing is accomplished."

"Scripture says that we are to show the brother his sin, not question him to see if he has sinned and then demand that he prove that he hasn’t."

You're assuming that no evidence exists. The question stated that such evidence did exist. Again, it was a generic situation with parallels to the real situation, but yes, assumptions were made in asking the questions. That's the nature of a hypothetical question that begins with the word "if." Just because the people with the evidence haven't nailed copies of said evidence to the front door of the church (which at this point would be premature) doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Those who claim to have the evidence have said they are perfectly willing to present that evidence in the proper setting -- which is behind closed doors with the parties involved and their witnesses present.

Thank you for taking the time to respond. I think we'll probably never agree on this situation, but at least we can disagree agreeably.

God bless,

NBCCOF

Josh Tucker said...

NBBCOF,

What is the purpose of asking hypothetical questions that parallel, but do not mimic, the situation at hand?

New BBC Open Forum said...

Okay, josh. Mimic... parallel... Does it really matter? I was simply trying to throw out some questions to initiate a discussion. Nitpick if you want. I think it accomplished that goal. The Suggestion Box remains open if you have any topic suggestions of your own.

NBBCOF

New BBC Open Forum said...

I meant "john mcvay" wrote...

Apologies for misspelling your handle.

ezekiel said...

Dear fedup.....

I posted this on 10/1. It may help you with some of your questions.


exapastorjohn.......

I address this to you simply because if anyone can understand me and this situation it should be you with the veiw from your position, experience and training. However, I sincerely hope that other pastors and specifically ours is looking/listening.

The tone of your posts changed markedly between the first and the last and I thank you for that.
There is a lot of discussion about the members ability to question leadership and a lot of folks telling us to leave if we don't like it. And frankly a lot of folks doing just that.

I just read 3John and Rev 2 today. Paul obviously had a problem with a church leader called Diotrephes that odly enough sounds a lot like a lot of folks around here these days. In revelations, Jesus commends the church at Ephesus for "putting to the test those who call themselves Apostles"

As I understand it I am part of the Body. I might only be the little toe but if I am cut and bleeding the head hears about it real quick. I trust the head to bandage me and heal me, not cut me off and throw me in the trash.

My point is that as part of the body we all have our jobs to do and have been given gifts to do them. There would be no disagreement here if there was total truth and light. If those asking the questions were promptly shown the truth and light they may have been roundly humiliated and the rest of the body would have thought twice the next time something came up.

But they were not. Why not? So far the response has been "do as I say and don't question me"? (Diotrephes?

The way I see it everyone can win here, if we expose all to the light and love and forgive all. No one has anything to loose doing this. But keep things in the dark and we walk in Satan's back yard.

There is only one head of the church that I have read about and that is JESUS. The rest of us are all parts of the body and the church will walk with a limp if I am gone. Where will the head be if he cuts all his parts off and askes them to leave?

12:33 PM, November 01, 2006

I highly encourage you to just read the Word. There is no better teacher, no better confidant, no better brother. And it is absolutley mistake free.

I believe that the BIBLE is the written record of Jesus, that he was here in the beginning and continues to walk with us today.

Please get you a copy today, pray for the holy spirit to teach you and
eat it and drink it daily. Eternal life is within your reach. Grab it!