Should we trust Christian leaders? I was having a discussion with a friend last week about the famed Pastor Creflo Dollar Jr. If you’re not familiar with Rev. Dollar, he is one of the better-known prosperity gospel preachers. He is famous for telling his followers that they needed to send him money to purchase a new Gulfstream Jet.
The Rev. Dollar is not alone. There are a host of so-called Christian leaders that espouse a prosperity gospel message. After all, why wouldn’t Jesus want you to be prosperous and live well? And if you have to contribute to their own personal wealth to achieve said wealth? Isn’t that a small price to pay to receive God’s blessing?
My friend was rightly skeptical about this type of theology. Sadly, many people have had their money and their relationship with God stolen by these abusive pastors.
What About Other Abuses?
And of course, there is the child abuse scandal that stains the Catholic Church. It seems certain that the Church covered up sexual abuse, and purposely relocated priests to avoid prosecution and imprisonment. These actions should be condemned on every level. I can see why people would not want to trust an institution that was so clearly in denial and continues in that denial.
So what are we to do? Should we abandon churches all together? Do we really need these large churches to access God? Can’t we just worship God on our speedboat in between beers on Sunday? Isn’t it safer this way?
This Is Personal!
I work in the trucking industry. Every time I see a horrible wreck caused by a truck driver; I get angry. I always took pride I my safety as a driver. And it makes me furious that someone is out there giving our industry a bad name with their reckless behavior.
I feel the same way with Christian leaders that fail. It’s disheartening when the message of Christianity gets obscured behind the bad behavior of its leaders. The damage that is done in these instances is a double tragedy. It not only effects it’s victims on a temporal level, but also on a spiritual one as well. So why continue on is such an obviously flawed system?
Separating The Message From The Participants.
First, we need to separate the participants from the message. Take political parties as an example. We all have certain political views that we hold. Undoubtedly at some point, a political leader in one of the parties will abuse power or be involved in a scandal. Does this mean we should abandon our principles and change parties? No, because we recognize that while leaders may fail, we still support the ideas that the party stands for.
Christianity is the same in this respect. Yes, certain leaders can be flawed. But this shouldn’t take focus off the message of Christianity or Jesus. If his message is true, then we should be willing to follow it. The key is to educate the followers of Jesus as to what his true message is and is not. They should be able to tell when a teaching isn’t in line with scripture and be able to walk away from a church that doesn’t hold to the truth.
Has Anything Changed?
Biblically based churches that are true to God’s calling have systems in place to keep their leaders accountable. I have worked with youth in several churches. In each case, I submitted to a background check, fingerprinting and was required to submit references to take on that roll. I would have been leery of serving in a place that didn’t have these requirements. Accountability is key. If there is are no checks in place, there will be opportunity for abuse.
So, should we trust Christian leaders? I would say yes, we should. As with anything in life, there will be people that abuse power. But to simply abandon an institution because some have abused power in the past is not reasonable. We need to make sure we have adequate protections in place. And we need to appropriately trust our leaders. The benefits of being in worship and communion with other Christians is simply too valuable to do otherwise.
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