From my “in” box…

July 12, 2008 in Sovereign Grace Ministries

From my inbox, shared with the author’s permission: 

Dear Kris, 

I have been aware of your site for many months now, but I have never commented there, as I did not want any part of what I thought was going on.  It seemed like a place where bitter people hung out to share exaggerated stories of abuse and nurse their grudges against the church I love.

We (my wife and I) were part of SGM for several years.  The only reason we left was because we moved (due to a job change) and the closest SG church is an hour’s drive away from our new home.  When we first moved, we tried to attend the SGM church that was an hour away, but it grew increasingly difficult for the children. We finally made the painful decision to strike out and look for a congregation that was closer to our home.  We are in a Reformed church now, and we are quite happy here.

However, we still had the highest respect for Sovereign Grace and believed that it would only be a matter of time before we would move again to a place that had an SG church close by.  We were even contemplating relocating to a neighborhood somewhere midway between the SG church and my job, until gas prices went through the roof and made that idea highly impractical.

What I’m trying to get at is that I found this site and was upset by the contents.  Although perhaps I have noticed some of the things discussed, I never believed that there was anything worth criticizing openly.  All churches have problems.  No church is perfect. 

Recently, though, I have been rethinking some things.

A few weeks ago I found out that the pastor of the small Sovereign Grace church we used to attend was removed from his pastoral duties.  Yes, apparently, he got fired! 

A friend sent me the link to the sound file of the “family meeting” where Steve Shank and Benny Phillips explained to the congregation what had happened.  The pastor – someone whom I greatly admire and respect – had NOT had a “moral failing” or done anything specifically wrong.  I think the example they used was “misappropriating church funds.”  The pastor had NOT done any of these things.

Instead, he was being asked to step down for the sins of pride and the “fear of man.”

Even though in some ways I am still processing this information, I can say with confidence that this move simply has to be WRONG on many levels.  As I said, I (and everyone else that I knew there) think the world of this pastor.  He was very kind to my wife and I when we were new to the church.  Throughout our involvement in this church, I never saw any evidence of pride in this pastor’s life, nor “fear of man.”

I want someone to show me where “fear of man” is listed in the Bible as a sin anyway!

None of this makes any sense.  How can an “evaluation committee” presume to know another man’s heart?  Supposedly (this was in the family meeting sound file available online) this pastor had admitted his sin of pride to the committee when they asked him.

But isn’t such a question (“Are you a proud or prideful person?”) kind of a trick question?  Aren’t you forced to answer yes to it?  Wouldn’t a “No” answer automatically indicate possible pride?

Firing a pastor for sins like pride and the “fear of man” seems to validate everything you have written on this site.  As the “apostles” themselves admitted, this pastor did not do anything bad enough (according to the Bible) to warrant being asked to step down.  Moreover, he was a great man of God with a true pastor’s heart.  He and his wife started the church as a church plant and have spent the last 9 or 10 years pouring themselves into it.  That this could be stripped from him and that he could be basically put out on the street strikes me as an utter injustice.  As I said, where do these authorities get off talking about the “fear of man” as an offense worthy of “defrocking” a minister?  Especially one who is a good guy, a kind man, someone who cared deeply for everybody in his flock?

The email closes with some personal information that is not pertinent to this post.

© 2008, Kris. All rights reserved.