Tuesday, October 03, 2006

A Violation of Trust or a Pastor's Responsibility?

Yes. I am an avid viewer of "The O'Reilly Factor." While I may not always catch the show on weeknights at 8:00pm, I highly respect and admire the man who has been deemed a "culture warrior" (not surprising that such is the title of his latest book).

Last night, one of the segments on the Factor was a discussion regarding a pastor in Fort Worth who has recently been sued by a former member of his congregation for defamation. Why? Pastor Westbrook of CrossLand Community Bible Church has been sued for bringing this woman's infidelity to the attention of the congregation. Not all of the details were discussed on the Factor last night, but there was a guest who appeared to talk with Bill, an attorney representing Pastor Westbrook. When Bill asked him about the situation with the pastor exposing the woman to the congregation, the attorney very simply paraphrased Matthew 18 and the steps to appropriate church discipline. It became clear rather quickly that Bill wasn't following, and he was miffed that the attorney could not quote Matthew 18 verbatim. Keep in mind that Bill is Roman Catholic, and therefore the notion of a confession going beyond the confidentiality of the priest is unheard of. All that to say that when the attorney could not give Bill a word-for-word quote of the text, Bill simply cut in and said, "Well, I think that's bull."

I wrote a brief email to Bill in regard to last night's segment, keeping in mind that he likes the viewers who write in to "keep it pithy." I am wondering how many others watched the same segment and what the varying reactions have been. It was apparent from the start of the conversation with Pastor Westbrook's attorney that Bill was not familiar with Matthew 18 or the responsibilities of the pastor(s) of local churches to follow through with biblical, necessary church discipline. This is not an issue that seems at the forefront to necessitate legal action, even when some of the details I read in an article elsewhere (
http://www.christianpost.com/article/20060927/24835.htm) make some of the aspects of this case a little sketchy regarding the woman's position in all of this (i.e. how the woman viewed her standing with the church as a professed former member of the congregation, and trying to give a title to the pastor's role in counseling her that frees her from any form of accountability to him as her pastor/elder).

If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. ~Matthew 18:15-17

Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. ~Hebrews 13:17

Just think of the implications of this particular case and how it fits into our ever-changing postmodern culture.

1 comment:

Funderstorm said...

Our world is full of "tolerance." People who know right from wrong don't want to speak up and make someone mad and those who do take the heat in serious ways.