Woe to you, celebrity pastors, big-name theologians and wanna be’s
A retelling of Luke 11:37-52.
While Jesus was speaking, a celebrity pastor asked him to dine with him, so he went in and reclined at table. The pastor was astonished to find out that Jesus did not have any letters after his name, had not been to seminary, and did not blog, or use twitter, or have a multi-channel website, or even a business card!
And the Lord said to him, “Now; you celebrity pastors acquire all those outward displays of theological eminence and influence, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness and a craven fear not to rock the boat of the boys club. You fools! Did not he who made the outside make the inside also? You pick your spiritually-correct causes to lobby about: abortion, homosexuality, the ‘divorce epidemic’, feminism (which some of you deliberately misunderstand), the ‘erosion of family values’, male and female roles, and missions in other lands, and you talk incessantly about the gospel. You can’t make yourself spiritual with all that outward stuff. Give charity and mercy from your inmost selves, rather than from your presumptuous politico-spiritual-correctness, and behold, everything will be clean to you.
“But woe to you celebrity pastors and big-name theologians! For you cavil and debate about New versus Old Calvinism, the third use of the law in sanctification, Insider Movements, six-day versus long-age creation, intinction, and other such niceties, and you neglect justice and the love of God. You neglect the victims of abuse in your churches: victims of domestic abuse, sexual abuse, child abuse, spiritual abuse. You wink at the leaders who cover up the abuses and resist reporting the crimes to the police. Some of you even pat those leaders on the back! And when a crime finally goes to the police you mincingly claim that you can’t say anything because ‘it’s in the hands of the secular courts’. You sit on your hands and assert that you’re unable to take a stand because you don’t know all the facts.
“And you ignore the cries of the abused who have suffered forms of horrendous abuse that society doesn’t (yet) define as criminal — forms of abuse like the pattern of incremental, subtle, coercive control that typifies domestic abuse. You sidle out of publicly announcing that you’ve changed your mind and now believe that the Bible allows divorce for abuse. You fail to denounce men like Piper for teaching that all divorce is sin. And you sit there, not saying that divorce for abuse is biblical, while the victims of abuse are cast out of their churches for not reconciling with their abusers.
“These things — justice and mercy — you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.
“Woe to you celebrity pastors! For you love the best seats in the conferences, and you banter jovially with your buddies on podcasts, while victims of spiritual abuse contemplate suicide, and devoutly Christian single mothers, victims of domestic abuse, are forced by court order to send their kids off to the abuser who will molest their spirits and perhaps their bodies also. Woe to you! For you are like unmarked graves, imparting contamination and prejudice to people who come under your influence — and they don’t know it.”
One of the sycophants of a celebrity pastor answered him, “Teacher, in saying these things you insult us also.” And he said, “Woe to you sycophant copycats also! For you load people with legalistic burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers. Woe to you! You refuse to heed the whistle-blowers’ concerns and you admonish them with the weasel’s excuse that they should have gone to the celebrity pastor privately as per Matthew 18. Even though the celeb pastor wrote his books and his blog for all the world to read, you won’t let the whistle-blower critique his teaching publicly!
“Furthermore, you tell victims of domestic abuse that they aren’t allowed to disclose about their abuser’s wicked conduct, because that would be gossiping. You reluctantly engage in a Matthew 18 process if the victim presses you enough, but you quickly get hoodwinked by the abuser’s fake repentance, and you end up treating the poor victim as the unbeliever, while you allow the abuser to keep his ‘wonderful man of God’ status in the church.
“If you were subjected to the mean-spirited stiff-necked prejudice that you subject these victims to, you would crumple! You would loudly complain that the burden was too hard to bear. And would feel entitled to demand an immediate apology! You would slam those who unjustly treated you.
“Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets whom your fathers killed. So you are witnesses and you consent to the deeds of your fathers, for they killed them, and you build their tombs. You mouth phrases like semper reformanda (the church is always to be reformed) but you refuse to give the reformers a hearing. Your ‘canons of niceness’ condemn anyone who uses the type of strong language used by reformers five hundred years ago. Therefore also the Wisdom of God said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute,’ so that the blood of all the prophets, shed from the foundation of the world, may be charged against this generation, from the blood of Abel to the blood of William Tyndale, who was burnt at the stake. Yes, I tell you, it will be required of this generation. Woe to you ivory tower seminarians! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering.”