Believe The Best?

January 24, 2009 in Sovereign Grace Ministries

I initially wrote part of this as a comment in the previous article, but I’ve expanded it and now throw it out there to our broader audience.  What do YOU think?

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The people who get so mad at me for my “slander” and “gossip” here and who write comments full of passion in defense of their pastors…they’ve expressed anger over the way that any of their defenses get written off as just the rantings of “Kool-Aid drinkers.”

What they don’t understand is, while there are NO DOUBT wonderful things about their pastors, and while there are NO DOUBT two sides to every story, it is simply NOT NORMAL to so passionately feel the need to point these facts out as one’s FIRST response to reading a story like Noel’s.

That whole “believe the best” thing, when an SGM outsider sees it in operation, looks a lot more like a first grader sticking his fingers in his ears and shouting, “La la la la la” so he doesn’t have to hear what someone is trying to tell him, than it does the response of someone who is still in possession of all his thinking faculties.

The NORMAL, RATIONAL response, especially to a story like Noel’s – and don’t get me wrong, many SGM defenders HAVE responded in this way – is to be genuinely concerned that it could be true…and to immediately begin to search out the truth.

(And, by the way?  An HONEST “search for the truth” involves a whole lot MORE than merely going to one’s SGM pastors and asking them about it.  Truly, this makes no sense!  First of all, if your leaders have been trained in the “believe the best” teaching – which they HAVE – then what sort of response do you think you’re going to get from them?  If they’re leaders within SGM, they will have already proven themselves thoroughly loyal and thoroughly supportive of the “party line,” anyway.  They have a VESTED INTEREST in “believing the best” now.  What do you THINK they’re going to tell you?

Moreover, it’s downright ludicrous to me that anyone would assume that someone purported to have behaved badly years ago and then successfully swept this situation under the rug for a decade would suddenly be willing to be completely open and honest about it with some random questioner ten years later. 

Think about that.  How stupid is it to believe that you can just walk up to one of Noel’s former pastors and go, “Hey, did you sympathize with the abuser more than the abused?” and believe that they’re going to respond with, “Why yes, as a matter of fact, we did, and we are so sorry”?

What in the world is logical about assuming that you’re going to get a straight answer out of someone about a situation where he purportedly was NOT straight to begin with?

All those emails I’ve been getting from people who went to their SGM pastors and are now reporting so confidently back to me with those pastors’ responses?  I don’t know how to break this to you gently, so I’ll just spit it out:  what those pastors tell you is NO MORE CREDIBLE than what Noel herself has shared.  In fact, what Noel shared is a lot more verifiable than what any pastor will tell you.  After all, she’s got lots of outside people, people with no vested interest in the situation, people like her family doctor and police investigators, who know very well when they were informed and who informed them.)

So, all of this is to say, when SGM defenders’ first response is to defend their pastors and cast doubt on the stories told here on this site, I can understand it, because that appears to be how they’ve been trained to respond, through all the teachings on the importance of always “believing the best” of their leaders.

But nonetheless, it REALLY DOES make these folks look like the proverbial “Kool-Aid drinker.”

Here’s a little something for the SGM defenders to ask themselves, which will point out something interesting about the teaching of “believe the best” as it supposedly operates within SGM:

Do your leaders extend this grace to YOU?

If you are called in and questioned about something – if one of your leaders deems it necessary to “bring you an observation” – and you offer up an answer in your own defense, do they take you at your word and “believe the best” about YOU?

I’m willing to bet not!

Now, hang with me here and open your minds just a tiny little crack.

Ask yourselves, WHY does this “believe the best” thing only flow one way? Why is it that when a member is spoken of negatively, the pastor’s first reaction is typically to believe the negative thing about the member and assume that the member will have exhibited the most sinful behavior possible in the situation?

Yet…if a PASTOR is spoken of negatively, the member is supposed to automatically “believe the best”?

Where’s the logic in any of this?  How can this be supported from Scripture?

Would anyone care to weigh in here?