Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Death of a Legend

John Stott, one of the most respected and influential preachers of the age, died today at 90.  Among the many tributes comes this delightful snippet from Richard Bewes, one of his successors at All Souls.

When I became Rector of All Souls, we would pray together every week. He would treat me as his ‘boss’, but then he was my ‘bishop.’ Because my own study tended towards untidiness, we would usually meet in his tiny two-room flat, for there was an iron discipline about everything that he did. One year we were both speakers at the Keswick Convention.  At the hotel where we were staying, I asked the staff member responsible for cleaning our rooms what she thought of the Convention. “Well,” she replied, “I go down to the Convention, and I hear people praising one speaker and then another. But I judge these men not by their speeches but by their bedrooms!”
“On that basis,” I hazarded, “Who is the outstanding speaker at Keswick this year?”
“Oh,” she said, “There’s no doubt at all about it. It’s John Stott!”

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Is this the best way?

Update: I've altered the title of this blog.  I don't want to add to the accusations against CJ and distress him any more (in the, admittedly remote, possibility of him seeing this.)

Have you seen this?  And the further comment, here?  

Last year John Piper took a well-publicised 8-month break.  The major reason seemed to be family issues - needing time to give to his wife and his children, to repair relationships and build for the future.

Now, CJ is doing something similar.  This time, it's not family issues, but leadership issues.  'Over the last few years some former pastors and leaders in Sovereign Grace have made charges against me and informed me about offenses they have with (sic) me as well as other leaders in Sovereign Grace.  These charges are serious and they have been very grieving to read.  These charges are not related to any immorality or financial impropriety, but... include various expressions of pride, unentreatability, deceit, sinful judgement and hypocrisy.'

So, a leave of indeterminate length, during which he hopes to pursue reconciliation with those he's offended.  A third-party ministry is being asked to oversee and evaluate, and David Powlison and Mark Dever (both friends of CJ) have been asked to review the charges, and to counsel and correct CJ.

Now, I don't want to minimise sin.  Especially the sin of leaders.  And there's something great about CJ's willingness to listen, to be rebuked, to seek reconciliation.  I'm a fan of his; and of Piper's.  (Be warned: the commentator who always uses the comments section to attack CJ and SGM will have his comment removed. Again.)

But I think this is over-kill.  If anybody's offended, and right to have been offended, apologise.  And move on.  And get on with the work.  If they can't accept it at that point, it becomes their problem.  

Not only is it over-kill; I fear it minimises grace - the very last thing CJ would want.  Christian grace says sins are forgiven by God the moment we confess them, and should be forgiven by others too at the moment of apology.  To turn it into a long process has more in common, I fear, with psycho-babble than grace. An extended leave to sort out our mistakes is an indulgence most Christians, and most pastors, cannot afford.  Don't let Satan cripple your work, guys; time is short.  Get on with it.  You're good at what you do - by God's grace.

What next?  Dever taking extended leave while he repents of finding only 9 marks of a healthy church?  Macarthur taking extended leave while he personally scrubs all his recorded sermons clean of dispensationalism and prepares an extensive series on the Old Testament?  Driscoll taking extended leave as a penance for his appalling sense of humour?

One thing you can be sure of: Begg won't join the bandwagon.  He's a Brit; he'll be getting on with it.