BlackCalvinist April 6th, 2010
Pastors. People who are in a position of leadership of God’s people and serve as shepherds (not just ‘sheep’). People charged with feeding the church of God and protecting them against false doctrine (Acts 20:28-32). The Pastor must hold to sound doctrine, be able to teach it and correct those who contradict it (1 Tim. 1-3, Titus 1). Character qualities are high – must be equally above reproach (bad reputation) to the church as well as the outside world so that the gospel doesn’t have an opportunity to be blasphemed by unbelievers. Scripture commands (1 Timothy 5) to rebuke a sinning elder (elder, pastor and bishop are synonyms for the same office – pastor) in the presence of all so that the rest of members of the church will fear. So it’s a big deal when pastors fall into sin.
The highest moral character must be sedulously maintained. Many are disqualified for office in the church who are well enough as simple members. I hold very stern opinions with regard to Christian men who have fallen into gross sin; I rejoice that may be truly converted, and may be with mingled hope and caution received into the church; but I question, gravely question whether a man who has grossly sinned should be very readily restored to the pulpit. As John Angell James remarks, “When a preacher of righteousness has stood in the way of sinners, he should never again open his lips in the great congregation until his repentance is as notorious as his sin.” Let those who have been shorn by the sons of Ammon tarry at Jericho till their beards be grown; this has often been used as a taunt to beardless boys to whom it is evidently inapplicable, it is an accurate enough metaphor for dishonoured and characterless men, let their age be what it may. Alas! the beard of reputation once shorn is hard to grow again. Open immorality, in most cases, however deep the repentance, is a fatal sign that ministerial graces were never in the man’s character.
While I can quickly assent to agreement with every sentence Spurgeon wrote, I get a little fuzzy around the last sentence, even though he put the qualifier of ‘most’ on there. A few preachers believe there is no restoration to ministry after the fall of a pastor, specifically for sexual sin (because of the nature of the sin and the damage it does to the witness of the gospel). Others believe that there is a time, after watching one’s life again consistently (measuring consistency in years, not simply months) where an ex minister can indeed be restored.
I have a few more, but I’ll post them in a few more days.