The Untouchables Among Evangelicals
Many years ago I remember teaching an adult Sunday school class. I read an article from a leading evangelical para-church organization which melded Christianity and Judaism, leaving the reader with the impression that one was as true as the other. A fellow who was visiting our class that day raised his hand and was obviously quite agitated. He said that he knew for a fact that this organization was a sound, Christian ministry that had done much good, and that it was absolutely terrible that I was criticizing it. He ended his critique with these words – “The next thing you will be criticizing Billy Graham.”
My answer to him was – well, I won’t be talking about Billy Graham this morning, but there certainly are some very questionable methods that he has used over the years, and I would not be the only one who has pointed these things out (see Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ biography for example).
I have no doubt that as we name the names of well-known pastors and teachers who are teaching that abuse is not a biblical ground for divorce, we are going to be roundly criticized for being critical. But believe it or not, I do not enjoy doing this kind of thing. I have respected John MacArthur and R.C. Sproul over the years and in many ways I still do. But I cannot condone the fact that they are all teaching as God’s Word a terrible notion – that God does not permit divorce for abuse. That a man can beat his wife to a pulp, totally smash the vows he took as the terms of his marriage covenant, and yet the covenant remains binding upon her.
In addition, it is in these kinds of debates that we always seem to see the idea of “The Untouchables” rise up. We have so exalted certain men and women in the church that it is strictly prohibited to ever criticize them or take them to task. Already I can hear it – “Why, the next thing this guy is going to do is criticize ____________” (you fill in the name). Can you see the danger in this? Doesn’t God’s Word actually hold a teacher to higher standard of accountability? “Let not many of you….”.
If the Apostle Paul would have followed the Untouchables rule that so many Christians seem to cling to today, then the following NEVER would have happened –
Galatians 2:11-13 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy.
The fact is, most Christians do not know nor understand the mentality and nature of abuse. They are oblivious to the nature of the sociopath and psychopath. Which is to say, they have not really met evil. Abuse victims have. And that is why Christians who have been on the receiving end of the evil of abuse go ballistic when they hear leading evangelical pastors and teachers announcing that abuse is no reason for divorce. No one is untouchable in Christ’s church. Not MacArthur, not Sproul, not Piper. If we have misrepresented them by saying that they teach that a woman beaten by her husband has no biblical grounds for divorcing him, then please send the quotations to us in a reply on this blog. But don’t use the argument – “why, how dare you criticize these men of God.” The Apostle Peter wasn’t above it. Neither are we.
UPDATE (added by Barbara Roberts, 19 Aug 2018)
Jeff Crippen wrote this in 2012, when our blog was pretty new. You will have noticed that in the post Jeff said:
I have respected John MacArthur and R.C. Sproul over the years and in many ways I still do.
For nearly six years, Jeff and I co-led this blog. Jeff resigned from this blog in 2017. He is still a full time pastor. He now blogs at Light For Dark Times and we quite often share his posts with our readers.
I want to update you on the “Untouchables” that Jeff Crippen mentioned
R C Sproul
Not long after Jeff had resigned from this blog, R.C. Sproul died and Jeff contacted me suggesting that ACFJ publish the private letter Sproul had sent to him some years previously. So I published it under our joint by-line, even though Jeff was no longer co-leading the blog with me. You can read that post here: R.C. Sproul Changed His View on Abuse as Grounds for Divorce – but to our knowledge he never publicly announced that change
I am certain that since writing this post, Jeff Crippen’s respect for MacArthur has greatly diminished, and he may perhaps have zero respect for him now.
It is public knowledge that only recently the Masters University Seminary has been put on probation by the accrediting authority. The secular authority which accredits universities has suspended Masters University Seminary for several reasons, one of which is a pervasive culture of bullying and another of which is lack of financial probity.
So it looks very much like MacArthur and his empire is a nest of vipers. If anyone still has respect for MacArthur, I suggest you research this. The Wartburg Watch is one of the blogs covering the story.
I recently put this post on our FB page.
The post gives a clip from this YouTube video about Billy Graham.
The clip shows Billy Graham being interviewed by Robert Schuler, where they are discussing salvation.
At the FB post, Pastor Sam Powell commented on what Billy Graham said in that clip:
It’s the gospel that is at stake. If Rev. Graham’s statement is correct, then salvation is a reward for sincerity, or good intentions. If that is the case, then no one is saved, for the justice of God requires perfection and is never fooled by “good intentions”.
Many of you on this site have been abused by church leaders who refused to discipline your abusers because they “repented” and had “really good intentions”. Was that just?
Is not God always just? Does God allow wickedness to go unpunished? How much wickedness is OK and how much is too much?
Instead of relying on our sentimentality, we hear God’s word. The soul that sins shall die.
The only hope of salvation is that God provided the perfect sacrifice, without blemish and without spot. Our sins were laid on him, and his righteousness was given freely to our account, as if we never had any sin – if only we accept it with a believing heart.
This is the only truth that sets us free. Otherwise we are held in bondage by those who promise us better ways, easier ways, just drop a few coins in and walk down the aisle one more time…
how many times is enough? Does God really save those with good intentions? I would say yes – but then who has those? 100 percent of the time, from birth until death, without once every failing and thinking evil in his heart…Anyone qualify? I guess you need to try again, and again, and again…
Billy Graham’s way leads only to bondage and death.
Come to Christ and live!
And, yes, this was the same gospel proclaimed and believed by the saints of the OT. They didn’t have the details, but they had the promise of God – that the seed of the woman would crush the head of the serpent. They had the sacrifices and the promise that God himself would provide a lamb.
And Proverbs 8 is a glimpse of the trinity that would be more fully revealed in the new. I’m preaching on that tomorrow, if you would like to catch it.
Barb, sorry for hijacking your post. I so want everyone to be free of the false gospel of death that has held us in bondage for far too long, Either Jesus paid it all, or he did not. If he did, then Rev. Graham was wrong in what he said to Schuler.
BTW, Robert Schuler was a rank heretic. How’s that for stirring the pot?
Why would a satanist want to pose as a Christian evangelist?
A satanist might pose as a Christian evangelist because the satanist wanted the visible church to be dominated by people who think they’re following Jesus but they’re not actually born again/regenerated.
The more weeds there are among the wheat, the more the visible church is an abuser-friendly environment.
The false form of salvation is epidemic.
I thought I was saved for years & was not.
God made me know something was off.
I was humbled in awe when He revealed it to me.
God is exposing cheap grace & pagan ways.
(—said by an anonymous follower of A Cry For Justice)
Further reading (added at the same time as the update)
Every Appearance of Evil, and the Billy Graham Rule – Ps Sam Powell
R. C. Sproul senior
R.C. Sproul Changed His View on Abuse as Grounds for Divorce – but to our knowledge he never publicly announced that change – Ps Jeff Crippen and Barbara Roberts
R.C. Sproul on Biblical Grounds for Divorce – Another Aaaaargh! – Ps Jeff Crippen
John MacArthur’s Instruction to Abuse Victims – Aaaaargh!!! – Ps Jeff Crippen
More on Abuse from John MacArthur – Double Aaaargh! Ps Jeff Crippen
Do you see me? — a survivor “Jane Doe” recounts how she was abominably treated by Masters College and Grace Community Church leaders when she reported that she had been raped. (those institutions are part of John MacArthur’s empire)
Do you hear me? — another “Jane Doe” who has suffered at the hands of the leadership at The Master’s University, Seminary and Grace Community Church.